Shepherd Canyon Books
25 Southwood Court
Oakland, CA 94611
Toll free number 866-219-8260 email backpack45 at yahoo.com
Publisher of "We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill--Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers."
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Susan’s editorial and welcome message
Does travel trash or save the world?
Rick Steves to visit Corte Madera and Orinda, CA this week
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago comes to the Bay Area
Patagonia program comes to the East Bay
Hiker Mommy gives good advice for outdoor activities
Count the ways: The myriad benefits of hiking poles
Backpacking is not without risk: Hansen
Camino de Santiago interest: Rennie considers offers hospitalero workshop
Inspiring hikes in the Southwest’s parks
'Tis also the season for Patagonia Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
#1. I’m not sure how this came upon us so quickly, but here we are in the month of December—still stuffed from Thanksgiving, but midway through Hanukkah and trying to take care of shopping and decorating while enjoying our eggnog and Christmas festivities.
Welcome to our new subscribers—many of whom were guests at our recent program for the San Francisco Sierra Club dinner. The Patagonia program will be repeated in January in the East Bay (more info below.)
Ralph and I recently took an “old-fashioned” road trip to the SW. You know, the kind where you throw everything but the kitchen sink in the back of the car and take off for parts unknown. We had no real plans beyond wanting to see parts of Arizona and Mexico; I picked up the maps at the AAA.
But, things changed as soon as we got in the car (and we didn’t have the correct maps). Instead of heading south to Phoenix, we decided to go east and go over Tioga Pass. The pass had been closely briefly the week (?) before, and very few people seemed to know it had reopened. It was sort of an eerie feeling to have the road over the Sierra pretty much all to ourselves. Things were like that for most of the trip because we stuck to minor roads most of the time.
Over the next 12 days, what I’ve been calling our “great, unplanned, SW road trip” took us through Tonopah (“Queen of the Silver Camps), Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Mesa Verde, Natural Bridges, Taos Pueblo, Santa Fe, several Navajo reservations and trading posts, Gallup, Hopi 1st mesa, and the Grand Canyon. It was a lot of driving and not nearly enough time to do justice to any, but we had many wonderful moments—not only because of the parks and countryside, but also because of the people we had time to visit with in the off-season, and the fantastic weather (just before the storms!)
As I’m sure many of you travelers know, just driving through the SW is a rewarding experience—the open skies, remarkable sunrises and sunsets, the incredible vistas of colorful canyons and plateaus…. A couple of the hikes that we managed to get in are described in a bit of detail below (item #11).
#2. In the “Future of Tourism: travel trashes or saves the world?” Les Stroud raises issues I often struggle with: for example taking an airplane to do a long-distance hike in a remote area. For the vimeo click here.
#3. Dec 4-17 is the time for the Geminids Meteor Shower, which should peak the night of Dec. 13. That night, there will be up to 80 meters an hour. Assuming you have clear skies, you can head outside by 10 P.M. to see the show wherever you live!
#4. Travel writer and TV personality Rick Steves is coming to the Bay Area for a couple of speaking engagement—focusing on travel in Israel and his thoughts on travel. He’s scheduled at Book Passage bookstore in Larkspur (Marin County) on Friday, Dec. 6th at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Orinda Theater. Orinda Theater, 4 Theatre Square, Orinda. Tickets $25-#35. Doors open at 6 p.m. Info click here or 925-6513. Also his whereabouts: www.ricksteves.com/news/wheresrick.htm
#5. Also on Friday night, a week with multiple showings of Lydia B. Smith’s “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.” “This award-winning documentary explores the enduring mystique of Spain's ancient Camino de Santiago trail as a spiritual mecca that inspires ordinary people to spend weeks, even months, walking 500 miles with only a backpack, a good pair of boots and the promise of experiencing the extraordinary. Since the ninth century, millions of world travelers have embarked on the pilgrimage, and this film follows in the footsteps of six modern-day "pilgrims," each on a life-changing journey that ultimately concludes in a profound reawakening for both adventurer and viewer alike."
The following schedule is the most current one posted—check their website for any changes:
A. Opening weekend Q&A with filmmakers:
- San Rafael: 12/6 - Senior Producer Theresa Coleman; 12/7 - Lydia B. Smith 12/8 - no Q&A
- Balboa Theater in San Francisco: 12/6 - Lydia B. Smith; 12/7 & 12/8 - Co-Producer and Featured Pilgrim: Annie O'Neil
- Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol: 12/6 - Annie O'Neil; 12/7 - Theresa Coleman; 12/8 - Lydia B. Smith
B. Further screenings December 6 – 12 in San Rafael, Sebastopol and San Francisco and a little bit more information:
Rafael Theater in San Rafael from December 6th - 12th. Link for advance tickets and general info: www.cafilm.org/rfc/films/1945.html /> Balboa Theater in San Francisco www.cinemasf.com/balboa/?page_id=303 /> Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol http://www.rialtocinemas.com/index.php?location=sebastopol&film=2013_camino. Saturday and Sunday 5PM & 7PM Featured Pilgrim does QnA Showtimes: Friday 12/6 @ 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, 7PM, 9PM; Sat 12/7 @ 5PM, 7PM, 9PM; Sunday 12/8 - Thurs 12/12 @ 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, 7PM. Call (707) 525-4840 for Tickets
You can check for further info at the website: www.caminodocumentary.org/ Or, phone: 503.206.4968 email: email@example.com
#6. Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. East Bay Dinners, Sierra Club. Susan and Ralph Alcorn will present “Exploring Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park and Beyond” at the event. Social hour 6:00 P.M., dinner 7:00; program 8:00. The Alcorns give a digital slide show focusing on their travels and hiking in Patagonia. While there in 2009 and 2010, they backpacked the Circuit Route in Torres del Paine, Chile and hiked in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. You'll also enjoy scenes of the Lake District; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. From their travels, came Susan Alcorn's most recent book, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine.
Cost for dinner and reservation info TBA. Spaces will be limited. Non-members are welcome. Be sure to note which event/date you will be attending because there are monthly events. Bring your own wine or soft drinks. Event will be at the Berkeley Yacht Club, Berkeley Marina, 1 Seawall Drive, Berkeley.
#7. Those of you with kids or grandkids that you like to hike with will enjoy this blog by “Hiker Mommy” that I just reposted on Examiner.com www.examiner.com/article/mommy-hiker-gets-kids-excited-about-hiking. Jennifer "Hiker Mommy" likes to take her young daughter "V" (photo to left) on short hikes in Southern California.
#8. In October, hiker, Eric Martinot (Double Zero, because one is never enough) started a thread on the Pacific Crest Trail forum (www.pct-l-forum) on the myriad uses of hiking poles. The following list contains many of his reminders and suggestions (labeled E.), as well as those of another couple of backpackers, and me (S).
Depending on how high you hold them above your head, indicate what kind of animal you just saw. Up high is our signal to show it’s a deer, close to the head is a bear--haven't developed one for mountain lions yet. (Susan)
Move pole side to side like a windshield wiper in front of face to keep black flies, mosquitoes, etc. out of your face. (S)
Make thudding sounds on the ground with the poles when hiking to scare off rattlesnakes (Eric).
Use to push stubborn rattlesnakes off the trail, or to plant an object (the pole) between snake and person wanting to get by safely. (S)
Make clacking noise with poles when trying to warn bears that you are nearby. (S)
Place poles lengthwise alongside your tent or sleeping bag to use to fend off animals. (S)
Allow yourself to maintain the fantasy that if a mountain lion attacks, you will have the time and presence of mind to yank off the rubber tip of a pole (which I use to avoid clacking noise in contact with rocky ground), collapse the pole to a stronger, shorter length, and then use the sharp tip to stab lion like a spear during the attack. (*) (Good luck. But a better use of your brain is to be rationally clear that no hiker on the PCT itself has ever been injured by a mountain lion according to what I've read. (Eric).
Use them to push vegetation, especially when it’s dripping wet, back from the edge of the trail.
Use to get rid of spider webs before you walk into them.
Reduce wear on your knees from the constant jarring of multi-mile multi-hour downhill sections, by absorbing some of the energy of each step down with your arms and body. (E.)
Hands feel better, less bloated, when kept at a higher level than hanging by the side, and also more active, hour after hour. (E.)
Put power into pole plants to push yourself along when very tired at the end of the day. ("Balance of power" shifts from legs to arms.) (E.)
Keep balance when walking on slippery or submerged rocks across a stream or when fording deep swift water (most valued of all uses to me). (E.)
When crossing stream on a log using high-wire balance (looks good, anyway).
Semi-pole-vault across narrow deep streams without rocks to step on. (Easier than a run-and-jump approach.) (E.)
Use it to dig cat-holes saving the weight of a small shovel. (Michael Irving)
A trekking pole is a perfect tool for marking the trail- pointy arrows in the dirt, or a smiley face for someone coming behind. (Trew)
Snow and water crossings: measure depth of the snow or stream before crossing (or for bragging to friends how deep the snow was).
Use to hold up a tarp in lieu of having a tent or dedicated tarp poles.
When bear bagging using the counter-balance method, use pole to hook the loop of cord you have carefully made near the bottom of the food sack, to pull down the sack.
Fun and Games:
Twirl like batons like cheerleaders do (S).
Enhance "hike dancing" with music along the trail, swinging arms/poles and moving body rhythmically from side to side, especially on rocky downhills where going around obstacles timed to the beat is akin to slalom skiing, and pole plants become part of the dance. (It's not always about getting from A to B. Make sure to do this in ultra-light trail running shoes for "quick feet" rather than heavy hiking boots! (E.)
Wave outstretched poles high into the air in a victory gesture when completing the entire trail (E.)
Wave poles in the air whenever you want to express your joy (S).
Readers, I invite you to add to this list (Ed.)!!!
#9. In August, when Ralph and I were backpacking hiking on the John Muir Trail, we met Jim Hansen. Hansen had a sobering tale to relate. He, his wife, and Tessa had reached Palisades Lake when Hansen's wife suddenly was hit with nausea, fever, and weakness. Initially Jim chalked it up to exhaustion, but the next morning his wife was worse so they did a layover day. She was even worse the following dad so they decided to exit at Bishop.
However, his wife became so weak that she could no longer walk—even without her pack and with help. She collapsed on the attempt to descend the Golden Staircase. “Vitals were temp 105, bp 90/50, resting pulse 135, unaware of her surroundings,” said Jim. He and two others tried, but found it impossible to carry her very far down the trail because of its narrowness, so a chopper was brought in and she was airlifted in the basket. She was flown out to Deer Meadow and then put into the chopper and taken to the hospital.
We met Hansen as all of us were leaving the JMT over Bishop Pass. He was going out on the east side and then going to find a way over to the hospital in Fresno. We wondered for days how this had played out and I was very happy when we heard a subsequent report. After four days in the hospital on antibiotics, Hansen’s wife was ready to be flown home—not entirely well, but no longer in danger. Jim wrote that the hospital did not do tests to determine the cause, but only treated symptoms, so the cause of the problem was up for speculation. He thought that an infection had probably entered her blood through blisters in her feet. He wrote, “Still most likely source was open blisters and hot springs. Sorry we don't have smoking gun here.” This is a reminder of the importance of avoiding infection in any open sore--especially under trail conditions.
#10. Rennie, who is a co-coordinator of the Northern California chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino, wrote, “Working in an albergue as a hospitalero/hospitalera is a great and grand experience. I'm approaching my 6th year in that role with a happy heart. My guess is that many of you may be interested in giving back to the Camino by working as a hospitalero/a. To do so one must have walked a Camino and be trained in a recognized training program. I would be happy to organize a training session if there are enough of you who are interested and have walked your Camino to make a training session in the NorCal area a reasonable proposition." Contact Rennie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
photo below: White House Ruins
#11. Trails of the Southwest: In Bryce (see item #1) , Ralph and I hiked the Fairyland Canyon Trail, which is an eight-mile, moderate hike that takes you below the rim and around many of the formation on a well-maintained path.
In Canyon de Chelly, I was thrilled to hike a trail that I first hiked almost 40 years ago. The trail down to the White House Ruins is a moderate, 600-feet switchback descent, and takes you from the rim of the canyon down to a much closer viewpoint of the cliff dwellings. Along the way, you pass an old hogan and cross the river (which now has footbridges). Click here to visit the NPS website.
At the Grand Canyon, we had only a short period of time, but we did find that the Bright Angel Trail is rated “easy” for the first stage, is several feet wide, and is very well maintained. You don’t need a permit to day hike below the rim.
#12. This is prime time for trips to Patagonia--since our seasons are reversed, you can enjoy the warmest weather right now. Please let us know how your trips to Chile and Argentina go, and feel free to visit our website for additional information on backpacking there.
Happy holidays one and all!
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Susan Alcorn's Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips #182. November 1, 2013.
#1. Enjoy free entrance to a National Park during Veteran’s Day weekend— November 9-11. You’ll probably find a bit of snow at the higher elevations, but Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia should be lovely. Check road conditions before you go. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm
#2. Here’s the link to an online journal about Chipmunk, a 14, turned 15-year old, who just hiked the entire Appalachian Trail solo. http://www.ridethenation.org/1415-yro-chipmunks-solo-appalachian-trail-thru-hike-quest.html
Chipmunk’s has now succeeded in her quest to become the youngest solo thru hiker to complete the AT.
#3. Camino hikers/pilgrims Amanda and Albert highly recommend a product called HikeGoo for preventing blisters. “It goes on easily like Vaseline, but doesn’t soak into your socks as Vaseline will. https://www.footkinetics.com/products/hikegoo-regular-2/
“A little bit more about Hike Goo -- I found out about it from a blog titled "Girls on the Way" by writer Patricia Ellis Herr who walked the Camino with her two young daughters last spring. I stumbled onto her blog when they were a few days away from Santiago. She mentioned Hike Goo in her earlier preparation posts so I googled it, only to find out it's made in San Diego! “Indigo's dad, Matthew, does most of the filming -- he has a fitness/health website and also is affiliated with a blog marketing site.”
Amanda also sent a link to the video blogs (vlogs) on You Tube of Indigo and his parents -- click here.
#4. Pilgrim Beth Lind Foote recently posted a warning to those who would like to bring back meats from Spain [or any other countries for that matter!] “FYI...don't bother buying any duty-free Spanish ham at the Madrid airport. It will be confiscated and thrown into a garbage can when you arrive back at the U.S. and go through customs.” It’s an important reminder to check customs rules and regs of any country you are traveling to—meats, plants, fruits, etc. are often confiscated.
#5. Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. San Francisco Dinners, Sierra Club. Susan and Ralph Alcorn will present “Exploring Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park and Beyond” at the event. Social hour 6:00 P.M., dinner 7:00; program 8:00. The Alcorns give a digital slide show focusing on their travels and hiking in Patagonia. While there in 2009 and 2010, they backpacked the Circuit Route in Torres del Paine, Chile and hiked in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. You'll also enjoy scenes of the Lake District; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. From their travels, came Susan Alcorn's most recent book, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine.
Send a check for $16.50 to Gerry Souzis, 1801 California St. #405, San Francisco, CA 94109. You can also call her between 4 and 9 p.m. at 415-474-4440>. Or email email@example.com. Spaces are limited. Non-members are welcome. Be sure to note which event/date you will be attending because there are monthly events. Bring your own wine or soft drinks.
Event is at the City Forest Lodge, 254 Laguna Honda Boulevard, S.F. across from the Laguna Honda Hospital (public transit on the Muni K,L,M, or 43.) There’s a small parking lot next door at the Forest Hill Christian Church lot or street parking.
#6. And here’s one from Switchback the Trail Pirate (with permission) from the PCT-l forum:
“Revival for PCT backpacker”
One day our intrepid PCT hero, Grizzly, was reading the Saturday morning newspaper at his cabin. His spouse, TrailDust, says to him that she read that there was a camp-meeting Sunday down at the park. She wanted them to go.
Grizzly says he does not think it will do any good, but TrailDust insists they go. She explains you never know when you will need some extraterrestrial help out on the PCT.
The next day they arrive at the very crowded camp-meeting and revival. Eventually the preacher announces, "Anyone with needs to be prayed over, come forward to the front at the altar."
Grizzly gets in line and when it's his turn he approaches the preacher and microphone. The preacher loudly asks, "What do you want me to pray about for you, old timer?"
Grizzly bends forward and replies into the microphone: "Preacher, I need you to pray for help with my hearing."
The preacher places his hands over Grizzly's ears and loudly prays and prays and prays. Everyone is yelling and raising their hands to heaven. It is an inspiring sight.
After a few minutes of this, the preacher removes his hands, stands back and asks, "Partner how is your hearing now?"
Grizzly replies, "I don't know, Reverend, it ain't 'til next Wednesday."
#7. “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” a multi-award winning documentary featuring six pilgrims on the Camino. The movie, by director/producer Lydia B. Smith, comes to the S.F. Bay area in December. Link: caminodocumentary.org
Opening on Friday, Dec 6, 2013, at 7:00 P.M. in Sebastopol and San Rafael—it will show at each venue for at least a week. You can meet Lydia on Friday (12/6) and Sunday (12/8) in Sebastopol and Saturday (12/7) in San Rafael. Her colleague, Theresa Coleman, will be doing the Q & A on Friday and Sunday in San Rafael.
Sebastopol, CA: 6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol. Vialto Cinemas. (707) 525-4840 for show times and tickets.
San Rafael, CA: 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael. (415) 454-1222 or www.cafilm.org
#8. American Crow or Common Raven? If you think you are seeing more crows and ravens these days, you are not alone—they are very adaptable, and intelligent, birds. Here are some clues about how to tell which one you are looking at: The raven is larger—about the size of a red-tailed hawk. The raven’s tail feathers are wedge-shaped and come to a point; the crow’s tail feathers are rounded and fan shaped. The crow makes the harsh “caw caw” sound; the raven makes a deep croaking sound. The crow flaps its wings with regularity; the raven only flaps occasionally and does a lot of gliding and gliding on the winds. If you see a large flock, it is mostly likely crows—ravens tend to be more solitary or in pairs. (adapted from “Brains over Brawn” by John Marzluff and Tony Angell (Audubon Magazine. June 2013). Their book, Gifts of the Crow, was published in 2012.
#9. For anyone who missed the Berkeley Welcome Home Party in October, a second celebration is scheduled for Saturday, November 9th, in Sacramento. Lil Velez D'Auria and Martha Lopez are organizing a potluck from noon to 4:00 pm at Martha's house. Come share your experiences and meeting fellow pilgrims from the greater Sacramento area. Details attached.
#10. Good news for those who walk, not run: a new study has found that walking has many of the same benefits as running. That includes reductions in diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Of course the expenditure has to be the same, so more time (usually) would have to be spent walking. (based on 150-pound woman walking briskly compared to running a 10-minute mile.)
Walk Run Calories burned
20 minutes 9 minutes 100
60 minutes 27 minutes 300
90 minutes 41 minutes 450
#11. A couple of new long trails are being developed—Great Himalaya Trail, which will be 1,600 miles, and the “Rim of Africa Mountain Passage,” more than 400 miles through six mountain ranges in South Africa. (Nat. Geo Traveler Oct.) The African trail will be the first long-distance trail on that continent.
#12. Anyone ever used Campinmygarden.com ? I just read about it--listings of people who will let you pitch your tent in their yard. Not many in the U.S, but an interesting idea.
#13. In October I was in Kings Canyon/Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks just as the recent closure went into effect. Luckily, I was still able to enjoy hiking, sight-seeing, zip-lining, and other activities during my week’s whirlwind visit. I enjoyed the deluxe accommodations as a guest of the new concessionaire, Delaware North, and I am looking forward to another trip to the Sierra soon.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking/Hiking Tales & Tips #180, October 2013
#1. At 5:40 P.M. on September 5th, 2013, Sunshine, who was 13 at the time, became the world’s youngest person to have ever thru-hiked the Continental Divide Trail (3,000 miles through the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada). Sunshine completed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2011 at age 11, and the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2012 at age 12. Her amazing accomplishments also earned her the Triple Crown Award—the youngest person to have done so. Her backpacking companion was her dad, Ericballs Gjonnes (who is on Facebook in case you want to follow the family’s further adventures).
#2. John Vonhof sends in this hint: “Here’s a great tip for backpacking from my ultra-running days. A natural sea sponge is full of airy holes and holds many times its weight in water. The holes allow air to circulate and cool the moisture/water inside. Dab at the back of your ears and neck to stay cool. Run a shoelace through the sponge and hang it from your pack. These are usually available at drug stores, sometimes in the cosmetics department.” Vonhof is the author of Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes, 5th edition and has a blog at http://www.fixingyourfeet.com/blog.
#3. Safely crossing a hazardous river: John E. Hiker (trail name) wrote: “One of the most dangerous activities a backpacker deals with is fording a river. Hikers are swept away on river crossings every season. Former Outward Bound instructor and mountaineering guide John E Hiker demonstrates basic technique for safely fording a river in deep water with a heavy load. While there are many ways that can be employed for a ford this video shows the most common and accepted technique as described in the book Freedom of the Hills published by The Mountaineers.
After I posted the message and YouTube link on Examiner.com, I realized that the method he recommends is somewhat controversial--at least the part about which way to face when fording a river. John added: “As someone who has done hundreds of fords I cannot imagine doing it any other way. From a strictly pragmatic experience I have much more stability when leaning upstream into the current. There is no doubt that this is a more stable stance in a strong and deep current. If I face downstream in a strong current the water just pushes me over and I'm swimming. The wave rides up my back and gets my pack wet. Besides the superior stability of facing into the current you also get to see what is coming at you. For example, if you are crossing during or after a storm there is danger of debris traveling downstream. If you are facing downstream you will not see it coming. I think this danger alone is one of the best reasons for facing upstream regardless of the better stability.
“I haven't seen any good reasons on blogs for facing downstream. First of all, you should have checked the river downstream before you even attempt the ford so you should be aware of downstream danger before entering the water. Having fallen in plenty of rivers I know it takes all of two seconds to turn your body around so your feet are facing downstream (the proper position in rapids) if you find yourself swimming. So it's irrelevant which way you are facing when you fall in because it is easy to turn about.
“Finally, on blogs I see people argue about this upstream or downstream in water in which direction of travel is irrelevant. Which way you point your body during a ford only matters in deep and fast water. Slow and or shallow water - who cares! I don't walk across a creek 12 inches deep in a tripod stance facing upstream. I just walk across. 'Technique' only matters in difficult and dangerous terrain. In other words, it doesn't matter which way you face during a ford if there is no danger or difficulty. Technique comes into play when the crossing is marginal. As I stated earlier, [does anyone suggest] that you are more stable facing downstream when fording a raging river where the water is creating a standing wave on each leg? I hardly think so. That has not been my experience.”
#4. Falls (not river crossings) are actually the most common cause of injury and death while hiking and backpacking. Shane Krogen, the founder and executive director of the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew, which maintains hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, recently fell to his death—but this was in an unusual manner. Krogen was being lowered in a harness from a helicopter into a remote section of Sequoia National Forest when he fell 50 feet to his death on Thursday, September 13, 2013.
Krogen was involved with the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew for 18 years and for many of those years had taken responsibility of the PCT from Kennedy Meadows to Trail Pass and for the section from Piute Creek to Silver Pass. The current operation was to help identify and eradicate illicit cannabis cultivation Many of the cannabis sites cause serious pollution problems from use of insecticides, rodecides and from erosion and can limit access to other people who want to enter the remote areas of the High Sierra. That day's operation was part of a joint mission with the CDFW, the California National Guard and the US Forest Service. Krogen was reportedly the last one out of the helicopter and used a harness that had borne all previous passengers to the ground with no problems.
#5. Association Administrator Position Announcement. Citing “unprecedented growth,” American Pilgrims on the Camino (American Pilgrims) is seeking an Association Administrator. A very brief summary of some of the responsibilities: “Management of our online membership program (they are currently using “memberclicks)” position; management of paper and electronic files; taking, editing, and managing minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors (some meetings are in person, some are online); filling requests for patches (and other items).
“American Pilgrims on the Camino proposes to pay an Association Administrator between $15.00 to $17.50 per hour, depending on qualifications, for up to 1000 hours per year. No benefits or paid vacation or time off will be provided. This position is a salaried part-time employee and no overtime compensation will be provided. We have a virtual office to be managed by the administrator with his/her own equipment from a location within the United States. We anticipate interviewing suitable candidates in the fall, making a decision by mid-November 2013, and having the association administrator start in January 2014. Please contact us with your questions and your applications at firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for proposals is Oct 4, 2013. Please submit a letter of interest in which you describe your experience in association or nonprofit management, other relevant management experience, and skills and abilities relevant to the tasks described above.
#6. Northern Cal Chapter announces its Annual Welcome Home Party, which will be Saturday, October 26, 2013, 11:00 AM-3:00. This will be at a new location: Newman Hall, 2700 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94704.
“As a follow-up to the spring shell ceremony and potluck, we are happy to announce the NorCal Chapter's second annual Welcome Home Party. Join us to celebrate returning pilgrims and hospitaleros from the NorCal region. Newman Hall is located near the UC Berkeley campus at the corner of Collage Avenue and Dwight Way. Hours for the potluck will be 11 AM to 3 PM. Getting to Newman Hall is easy, especially on public transit, which is very good in this area and recommended. The AC Transit 51 B provides direct service from both the Rockridge and Downtown Berkeley BART stations. Please RSVP to NorCalChapter@americanpilgrims.com
#7. Two special book events with Gail Storey, author of I Promise Not To Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail sponsored by the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Free. Reservations suggested.
#8. “2013 Gear and Go Tour”: 20 retail stores in the US have had, or will hold, this tour with an informative skills clinic, an inspirational interview with a BACKPACKER Mag. contributor or brand sponsored athlete, and a highlight of local trail beta. Here are two in the west: Oct. 3 at 7 PM at Berkeley REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, CA; and Oct. 8, 6:30 PM at REI Denver, 1416 Platte St., Denver, CO.
#9. On Sep. 23, 2013, Scott Williamson, who many of us consider a real Superman (and a really great guy!), wrote about his latest PCT hike. He was attempted to beat not only his own speed record, but also the new ones that were set this year by Heather Anderson and Josh Garret. Scott started at the Canadian border on August 10th headed south. He wanted to beat the "now overall record set by supported runner Josh Garret, but in the 'unassisted' style." For the first two weeks he had rain every day, but still managed to do 45+ mile days (walking 16 miles days). The weather improved gradually and as he entered California he was still doing better than 45 miles per day.
As he neared the halfway point of the trail in "30 days, 6 hours and 35 minutes," he started feeling nauseated and having stomach pain. He continued on, but his health continued to deteriorate. He decided to quit the hike just south of a place called "cold springs.”
Although Scott is now back home and feeling better, he has still not fully recovered. He knows he made the right decision about leaving the trail, and he is already planning another attempt--starting from the Mexican border in June, 2014.
#10. San Francisco Dinners, Sierra Club. Susan and Ralph Alcorn will present “Exploring Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park and Beyond” at the Thursday, Nov. 21 event. Social hour 6:00 P.M., dinner 7:00; Program 8:00. If interested, send a check for $16.50 to Gerry Souzis, 1801 California St. #405, San Francisco, CA 94109. You can also call her between 4 and 9 p.m. at 415-474-4440. Or email email@example.com. Spaces are limited. Non-members are welcome. Be sure to note which event/date you will be attending because there are monthly events. Bring your own wine or soft drinks.
Event is at the City Forest Lodge, 254 Laguna Honda Boulevard, S.F. across from the Lagune Honda Hospital (public transit on the Muni K,L,M, or 43.) There’s a small parking lot next door at the Forest Hill Christian Church lot or street parking.
#11. One of these days I hope to write about our August John Muir Trail hikes: Tuolumne Meadows to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) and from Kearsarge Pass to Bishop Pass. In the meantime, you might enjoy the series I am currently writing about our recent stay and hikes at Drakesbad Guest Ranch in Lassen Volcanic National Park. We had a wonderful three-night stay in September as guests of management. It was like a dream come true.
#12. In the September issue of this newsletter, I mistakenly identified the hiker—it was about Winter Pilgrim, not Peace Pilgrim [who herself was an amazing woman] and I am reposting the blog here. Winter Pilgrim completes an epic walk—Argentina to Mexico. She blogs, “Day 331: Arrived!! Whew, don't much care for urban pilgriming, especially across one of the largest cities in the world, but I arrived a bit after midday today at the Basilica de Guadalupe and got the last stamp in my pilgrim credencial, walking an incredible 13,008 kilometers (= 8,083 miles) across 12 countries in 11 months. Wow. I'm a happy happy pilgrim, but have only a few minutes on the computer at the moment. More later. I'm safe and sound after this 6th great pilgrim walk. Posted: 10 Aug 2013 01:06 PM PDT http://winterpilgrim.blogspot.com/
Note: photo #1 is Crater Lake, Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail; photo #2 is on the Camino GR 65 near Geneva, Switzerland; photo#3 is the bridge crossing into Torres del Paine, Chile (Patagonia).
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking/Hiking Tales & Tips #179, September 1, 2013
Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend! Stay safe!
This issue has several items about new hiking routes or setting new speed records on existing trails. Even though I may not want to take the same routes, or break any speed records, I never fail to be amazed at what other hikers can accomplish.
#1. Winter Pilgrim completes an epic walk—Argentina to Mexico. She blogs, “Day 331: Arrived!! Whew, don't much care for urban pilgriming, especially across one of the largest cities in the world, but I arrived a bit after midday today at the Basilica de Guadalupe and got the last stamp in my pilgrim credencial, walking an incredible 13,008 kilometers (= 8,083 miles) across 12 countries in 11 months. Wow. I'm a happy happy pilgrim, but have only a few minutes on the computer at the moment. More later. I'm safe and sound after this 6th great pilgrim walk. (Posted: 10 Aug 2013 01:06 PM PDT) Find her at http://winterpilgrim.blogspot.com/
#2. August 9, 2013 issue of the PCT [Pacific Crest Trail] Trail Dirt reports, “PCT speed record is shattered twice.”
“In remarkable feats of endurance hiking, Josh Garrett and Heather "Anish" Anderson are reported to have broken the overall Pacific Crest Trail speed record this week. They hiked separately, with Heather finishing first with a time of 60 days and 17 hours and 12 minutes. Josh finished the next day with a time of 59 days and 8 hours and 59 minutes. We’re in awe of their achievements and applaud them both.
“The previous speed record of 64 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes was set by famed thru-hiker Scott Williamson in 2011.
“Heather left the southern border June 8 at 6:30 a.m. and reached Canada Wednesday at 11:42 p.m. She averaged nearly 44 miles per day. She previously hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2005.
“Josh left the southern terminus June 10 at noon and reached the northern terminus on Thursday at 8:59 p.m. He averaged nearly 45 miles per day. He previously hiked the PCT in 2009.
“Josh hiked in support of vegan lifestyle choices, an animal cruelty-free world and the charity Mercy for Animals.
“Heather describes her younger years as marked by insecurity: ‘I hated my body and myself.’ She graduated high school weighing 200 pounds, only to lose the weight and find purpose when she discovered hiking. ‘I met something that would forever change my life: a trail. I was enthralled. Trails took me on the adventures I craved and to beautiful, wondrous, wild places. I lost my heart and soul...and eventually 70 lbs...to the trails.’
“PCTA does not officially validate, nor verify, records. They’re fraught with arguable points and are difficult to authenticate. However, we know an amazing feat when we see one. On behalf of the entire trail community, we applaud Josh and Heather and all the others who have and will continue to push themselves to new heights on our very special trail.” -- Jack Haskel, PCTA Trail Information Specialist?
Jack Haskel said, “I consider this to be leaps and bounds more physically trying than any other endurance sports I know of. It’s just incredibly hard.” (Seattle-Times).
#3. Scott Williamson, who in 2011 set a speed record for completing the PCT in 64 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes, has now set out to beat the newest records!
With all this going on, it is important to keep in mind that who has earned a speed record for a trail such as the PCT is a controversial topic (see Jack Haskel’s comments above). First, there’s the question of what “supported” and “unsupported” mean. What does it mean if people bring or leave you food along the trail; if you use or don’t use water caches; if you hitchhike out from the trail to a trail town to pick up your supplies? Another set of questions involves the trail itself—what if there are reroutings because of fire? What if the official trail is changed making it longer or shorter?
#4. Hollywood goes for Wild. According to the Los Angeles Times, Fox Searchlight has acquired the worldwide rights to Wild. Wild by Cheryl Strayed is the story of Strayed’s solo 1,000 miles backpacking hike on the PCT after her divorce and the death of her mother. The screen adaptation of Wild will star Reese Witherspoon. “Author and Oscar nominee Nick Hornby, is writing the screenplay. Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea, who originally optioned the book, will produce the film. Production is scheduled to begin in the late fall once a director is chosen.”
#5. Speaking of wild things, wildfires continue to rage in the west. It now looks like the Rim Fire, near Yosemite, will be with us into late September. http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3660/
#6. Reminder: Make your plans now to attend PCT Days. The 7th Annual Pacific Crest Trail Days will take place Sept. 6-8 in Cascade Locks, Ore., which is bordered by the Columbia River and surrounded by the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Here the Pacific Crest Trail and other nearby trails offer access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest.
PCT Days is a fundraiser for the PCTA and a celebration of the Pacific Crest Trail. Many thanks to Jason Waicunas and all the volunteers who put on this great event each year. Also, thank you to all the sponsors and exhibitors for your support of this event and Pacific Crest Trail Association. We hope to see you there! Visit our website for all the details.
#7. Just read on the PCT forum that Anish will be speaking at the ALDHA-West [American Long Distance Hiking Assoc. West] Gathering on September 28th at Camp Augusta in Nevada City, CA. This informal and fun weekend (Sep 27-29) has a schedule packed with interesting presentations. Watching the ceremony honoring those who have completed the “Triple Crown” is exciting. Triple Crown Awards are given to those who have completed the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Appalachian Trail.)
Register by September 12th. Info at: www. http://aldhawest.org/gathering/Jackie McDonnell & Matt Signore posted this info about Triple Crown Awards, “Have you hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trails? If so, you are entitled to receive your Triple Crown Award. The award is presented at the ALDHA-West Gathering, which is the weekend of September 27-29 in Nevada City CA.
#8. Last reminder: Patagonia program at Pleasanton Library coming up. Thursday, September 26, 2013. 7:00-8:30 p.m., free. Susan and Ralph Alcorn will give a digital slide show on Patagonia focusing on travel and hiking in the region. You’ll also see scenes of the Lake District; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. While there in 2009 and 2010, the Alcorn's backpacked the Circuit Route in Torres del Paine, Chile and hiked in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. From their travels, came Susan Alcorn's most recent book, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine.
Pleasanton Library, 400 Old Bernal Avenue, Pleasanton, CA. This is at the northeast corner of the intersection of Bernal Avenue with Old Bernal Avenue/Case Avenue. (Directions are here: http://www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us/services/library/location-access.html.)
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking/Hiking Tales & Tips #178, August 1, 2013
#1. Marcia Powers sent word that “Anish” Heather Jo Anderson is trying for a Pacific Crest Trail speed record of Mexico to Canada on the PCT, unassisted. Her goal is to do it in 60 days. At day 36 she was at Castella (just before Castle Crags in No. CA). She made it through Oregon in 9.5 days with mileages ranging from 41-50 miles. At Day 50, she crossed the Bridge of the Gods (over the Columbia River) and into Washington.
Anish is a Triple Crown hiker (has completed the PCT previously, as well as the Appalachian and Continental Divide). Marcia continues “[Anish] is on track for the fastest known time (FKT). She is entirely self-supported to the extent of walking to resupply points rather than hitching [ed.: which is what many, if not most, PCT long-distance hikers do.]
“The sport of multi day ‘self-supported’ (shelter and water aid stations provided with morning and evening hot water) ultras seems to be converging with the sport of self- supported long distance hiking.”
You can follow Anish on Facebook under “Anish Hikes.” Big kudos to Anish!!!
#2. Cleaning your bladder! No, not a body part—the water container in your backpack. Has anyone tried this? Rambler on the Camino forum wrote: “We carried 1L bottles that we would buy along the way and an old Gatorade bottle from the States. You can recycle the bottles after a few days and not worry as much about cleaning the bladders. [ed.: We have frequently done this on various hikes] “I also got a holster for the bottle that attached to my pack waistbelt so I would have water readily available.
“A month + is a long time for a bladder being used every day to go without a really good cleaning. BTW, the best was to clean a bladder;
Fill it with water; place one denture cleaning tablet in the bladder; leave it sitting uncapped till the water turns from blue to clear. Much better and easier than soap and water.”
#3. Patagonia program at Pleasanton Library coming up. Thursday, September 26, 2013. 7:00-8:30 p.m., free. Susan and Ralph Alcorn will give a digital slide show on Patagonia focusing on travel and hiking in the region. You’ll also see scenes of the Lake District; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. While there in 2009 and 2010, the Alcorn's backpacked the Circuit Route in Torres del Paine, Chile and hiked in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. From their travels, came Susan Alcorn's most recent book, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine.
Pleasanton Library, 400 Old Bernal Avenue, Pleasanton, CA. This is at the northeast corner of the intersection of Bernal Avenue with Old Bernal Avenue/Case Avenue. (Directions are here)
Looking to the future: Ralph and Susan Alcorn will be giving the Patagonia program at the San Francisco Sierra Club Dinner on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
#4. Volunteer vacations—American Hiking Society’s website still shows a limited number of opportunities for those wanting to pay forward by doing volunteer work on trails. New Mexico Boy Scouts of America, Philmont Scout Ranch 09/21/2013 - 09/28/2013 Difficult – 8 spots; at Pine Mtn. State Scenic Trail in Kentucky Sept. 29-10/5 (moderate). Many more can be found at American Hiking.
#5. A hello from Rob Casterline. “As many of you receiving this email already know my father, John Casterline, is a three time cancer survivor. The first was stage 4 lung cancer almost 7 years ago and he has since contracted and beaten two other cancers.
“For the last three summers he has been fighting to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, an epic hike of over 2600 miles stretching from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada. The journey will see him through dusty arid desert with temperatures over 100 degrees and soaring through some of the highest mountain passes in the lower 48 states frigid even in the height of summer. Today, John will have passed the 1500 mile mark and I wanted to share this amazing milestone with you.
#6. Bedbugs: Bedbugs are not a new scourge, but they seem to be making the news more these days. Recent report in the Bay Area was that two of the local Goodwill Industries warehouses have found bedbugs—prompting them to take strong action to stop these critters in their tracks. Dumpster loads of donated items had to be destroyed because of possible infestation.
Rennie, co-chair Northern California Chapter had this advice about bedbugs (July 11, 2013). “You may have heard that bed bugs can be a problem on the Camino. To some extent this is true. I've been doing some internet-based research on the problem and have two hints for you. 1) While natural bed bug poisons are available at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond and online, it can be problematic to transport these overseas. However, rubbing alcohol is extremely fatal to bed bugs and can be purchased when you arrive in Spain. Spray in on the seams of mattresses and pillows that you're worried about; use it to kill infestations on your person and in your pack. 2) I carry a small roll of duct tape when I'm walking. Serves many purposes such as repairs, blister protection, etc. Apparently bed bugs leave the seams of mattresses when they sense your body heat. If a fence of tape is laid out sticky side up, the bugs stick to it.”
Note from editor: We have hiked Camino trails 11 times with no bedbugs making their appearance—still it happens, so it’s nice to have some suggestions on prevention.
#7. Nor Cal chapter of American Pilgrims schedules Angel Island Hike & Picnic for Saturday, August 10, 2013. Rennie and Bob write, “Plan to join us and enjoy beautiful vistas of the San Francisco Bay Area as we hike the five-mile loop trail around historic Angel Island. This is a moderate hike with just a 400-foot elevation gain, but brings us to the former Immigration Station, the so called “Ellis Island of the West”, and various Army installations that were active from the Civil War through the Cold War. Dress for the weather and bring water, lunch, sunscreen, and your camera. If you are yet to experience the Camino, bring your questions so you can get advice from seasoned pilgrims. We’ll meet at the Angel Island ferry landing and begin our hike at 10:30.
“Access to the Island is by private boat or public ferry (prices are round-trip and include the Angel Island State Park admission fee).
From San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda: Blue & Gold Ferry Service, or from Tiburon: Tiburon/Angel Island Ferry Service.
Ferry Departure Times and Fares:
Oakland: 9:00, Adult $14.50 (Senior 65+ $11.25)
Alameda: 9:10, Adult $14.50 (Senior 65+ $11.25)
SF Ferry Building: 9:20, Adult $17:00(Senior 65+ $9.50)
SF Pier 41: 9:45, Adult $17:00 (Senior 65+ $9.50)
Tiburon: 10:00, Adult $13.50
Alameda Terminal Address: Freeparking is available at 2990 Main Street, adjacent to the ferry terminal.
Oakland Terminal Address: The Oakland terminal is located at the west end of Jack London Square near 10 Clay Street. Riders are eligible for up to 12 hours of free validated parking in the nearby seven-story garage at 101 Washington St., Oakland. Be sure to bring your garage parking ticket to the Ferry Terminal for validation.
Tiburon Terminal Address: The ferry terminal is located at 21 Main Street. From US 101 take the Tiburon Blvd exit and follow Tiburon Blvd four miles into downtown Tiburon. Turn right on Main Street. For location of pay parking lots, visit http://www.angelislandferry.com/FerryServices/TicketsandFares.aspx
For more information and ferry return times, visit:
Please RSVP by responding to this letter by Thursday, August 8th to firstname.lastname@example.org
#8. “Sage girl” writes, “I saw this great movie last night in Deland, Florida. It's a full-length documentary about hiking the John Muir Trail and recording the experience. They've scheduled several west coast showings if anyone would like to see it. It was funny, inspiring, funny, and wonderful.” Check out schedule here.
#9. Tom Courtney, author of Walkabout Northern California - Hiking Inn to Inn, come to area REI stores in August. Tues. August 6 at REI Roseville; Tues. August 13 at REI Stockton.
“Imagine the joys of inn-to-inn hiking you leave your car behind, explore lovely landscapes, and end each day with a great meal, a hot shower, and a comfortable bed.” The events are free, but they may fill up, so check out the stores’ websites and register in advance. All of the presentations go from 7-8:30.
#10. Appalachian Impression takes you on a six-month journey along the most famous long-distance hiking trail in the world, the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, you'll hear the hikers’ stories and experience the thrills and challenges of daily life on the Trail. Click here for a preview of the film. To reserve your seats or for a complete list of dates, times, and locations visitappalachiantrail.org/journey.
The Appalachian Trail starts in Georgia and ends at Mt. Katahdin in Maine 2,186 miles later. “An estimated 13,500 people have walked the trail from end to end according the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Only about 25% of the would-be thru hikers complete the tough hike.
#11. Job Opening: Land Conservation Associate. Save Mount Diablo asks “Are you passionate about the environment? Do you love being outdoors? Have you always wanted to work in land conservation? If the answer is ‘Yes, yes yes!’, this might be the job for you!
“We are currently hiring a Land Conservation Associate to assist with the stewardship of Save Mount Diablo properties. This person will organize volunteer stewardship projects, coordinate our hike program and the restoration of lands. Link here to job description.
#12. Here are some links to my articles about the Geneva to LePuy (FR) pilgrimage trail. We left this section midway across last year because of a leg infection and resumed it this year in good health! Even with the rain and mud we encountered, this was one of my favorite Camino hikes because of the beauty of our surroundings—green fields, colorful wildflowers—and because of the hospitality of our hosts.
#13. “Cattle grazing and clean water can coexist on national forest lands, according to research by the University of California, Davis. University of California, Davis (dated June 27, 2013).
“The study, published [6/27] in the journal PLOS ONE, is the most comprehensive examination of water quality on National Forest public grazing lands to date.
“’There’s been a lot of concern about public lands and water quality, especially with cattle grazing,’” said lead author Leslie Roche, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. We’re able to show that livestock grazing, public recreation and the provisioning of clean water can be compatible goals.’
“Roughly 1.8 million livestock graze on national forest lands in the western United States each year, the study said. In California, 500 active grazing allotments support 97,000 livestock across 8 million acres on 17 national forests.
“With an annual recreating population of over 26 million, California’s national forests are at the crossroad of a growing debate about the compatibility of livestock grazing with other activities dependent upon clean, safe water,” the study’s authors write.
“We often hear that livestock production isn’t compatible with environmental goals,” said principal investigator Kenneth Tate, a Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. “This helps to show that’s not absolutely true. There is no real evidence that we’re creating hot spots of human health risk with livestock grazing in these areas.’
“The study was conducted in 2011, during the grazing and recreation season of June through November. Nearly 40 UC Davis researchers, ranchers, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service staff and environmental stakeholders went out by foot and on horseback, hiking across meadows, along campsites, and down ravines to collect 743 water samples from 155 sites across five national forests in northern California.
These areas stretched from Klamath National Forest to Plumas, Tahoe, Stanislaus, and Shasta-Trinity national forests. They included key cattle grazing areas, recreational lands and places where neither cattle nor humans tend to wander.
UC Davis researchers analyzed the water samples for microbial and nutrient pollution, including fecal indicator bacteria, fecal coliform, E. coli, nitrogen and phosphorous.
The scientists found that recreation sites were the cleanest, with the lowest levels of fecal indicator bacteria. They found no significant differences in fecal indicator bacteria between grazing lands and areas without recreation or grazing. Overall, 83 percent of all sample sites and 95 percent of all water samples collected were below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency benchmarks for human health.
The study noted that several regional regulatory programs use different water quality standards for fecal bacteria. For instance, most of the study’s sample sites would exceed levels set by a more restrictive standard based on fecal coliform concentrations. However, the U.S. EPA states that E. coli are better indicators of fecal contamination and provide the most accurate assessment of water quality conditions and human health risks.’” ‘
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Happy 4th of July! Stay safe and enjoy!
#1. As I wrote in the June newsletter, Ralph and I have recently returned from a hiking/backpacking trip in France. It was on a “Camino” traiI, but as I mentioned before, it’s a relatively newly designated route—a continuation of the GR65 to enable pilgrims coming from Switzerland, Germany, and Central Europe to walk to Le Puy, FR in order to continue on to Santiago from there.
We started this 350-km (217-mile) segment from Geneva last year and planned to hike to Le Puy, but we had to get off the trail about halfway along when I developed a leg infection (all is well now). This year we resumed our walk in Le Gran Lemps and continued on to Le Puy. Though this route is designated “strenuous”, by the Confraternity of Saint James, it’s not anything a reasonably fit person can’t do. The first part (last year’s) was the more difficult because it is “crossing the grain of the land a lot of the time, with constant climbs and descents. A considerable part of the route passes through forest and woodland and much of it lies between 600 and 1000 m above sea level.” (www.csj.org.uk). We were often dropping down to walk near Rhone River and then back up into the mountains and forests.
This year’s path was my favorite and it started out basically paralleling the floodplain of the Rhone—but several hundred feet above it. In a few days’ time, we crossed over the river as it headed south toward Arles and the Mediterranean, and we continued on going southwest. The day that we encountered our biggest climb was not nearly as difficult as anticipated because most of it was along a former railroad line—which meant it was a slow and steady ascent.
Our raingear served us well. We encountered a lot of rain—both in Paris where we flew in and out of—and while on the trail. However, whereas it was also cold in Paris, the temperatures were relatively mild on the trail and the rain was usually light and limited in duration. The one big exception to light rains was as we entered Le Puy. There, just as we entered the city, we were greeted with not only drenching rain, but also thunder and lightning with barely a gap between the two.
While hiking, we wore our rain jackets, Packas, and rain pants. We carried our umbrellas, but other than in Paris, didn’t use them because we needed our hands free for our all-important hiking poles. Next time we will probably leave them behind.
Packas, by the way, are a sil-nylon or cuben-fiber rain covering for not only your upper body (to mid-thigh) but also pack cover. I don’t like the feeling of the Packa against my bare arms, and I like the extra warmth and coverage of my rain jacket—so I wear both. www.thepacka.com
The biggest problem with the rain was the trail conditions it created. We had many miles of moderately flooded trail to navigate, but most was passable. A time or two we had to detour and road walk because of impassable trail. But, overall, I liked the variety of trails that we found—a combination of secondary roads and rocky or dirt paths. I usually like hiking in the spring than in the fall. Although it’s much more likely to be rainy, it is also cooler. Everything is green and the fields are filled with wildflowers.
This was one of my favorite trail sections—not only because of the reasonable temperatures and the beautiful terrain, but also because of the many interesting places we stayed. There are no major cities along the route (until Le Puy)—in fact the largest towns have populations of 1,000-2,000. There are limited, but enough, places to stay.
We saw few other hikers so whatever accommodations were available, were not full. We stayed in hotels, chambres d’hôte and some gites d’étape. There are some campsites and caravans (mobile homes) (which we didn’t use) for overnights. Probably my favorite places to stay this trip were with the “accueils jacquaires” (welcome pilgrim). This is “comprehensive network of set up by the Association Rhône-Alpes, individuals who, with 24 hours’ notice, will provide overnight accommodation, breakfast and an evening meal for pilgrims carrying a credencial (pilgrim record) and a sleeping bag.”(csj.) Payment was by “donativo,” and we were uncertain what to pay, but finally resolved the issue by making a donation equivalent to what we would have paid in a moderate hotel where breakfast and dinner were included in the price. We had interesting and friendly hosts and our dinners were always delicious multi-course meals.
Note: I’m going to put some of my introductory comments about the GR65) at the end of this newsletter (item #11) in case you didn’t see them before.
#2. Barbara Egbert, “Nelly Bly,” wrote that her daughter “Scrambler” (aka Mary), is now a sophomore at Stanford and still loves backpacking; ”I’m very pleased to say that “Zero Days” is on sale in the bookstore there on the shelves marked “Stanford Authors.” You may remember that Egbert wrote this excellent account of her family’s thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Scrambler was only 10 years old at the time and was also at Sunol Glen School (Sunol, CA). The school supported the trip by “making it possible for her to finish all her fifth grade work before we started, and she didn’t have any trouble catching up with her class when we returned” writes Egbert.
#3. Hot days are here! John Vonhof, author of FixingYour Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes, 5th edition, knows a thing or two about hot weather precautions—he has provided foot care to thousands of runners over the years at racing events big and small. Whether it’s blisters or black toes, he has seen it all. He sends an idea for keeping cooler on hot days. “Here’s a great tip for backpacking from my ultrarunning days. A natural sea sponge is full of airy holes and holds many times its weight in water. The holes allow air to circulate and cool the moisture/water inside. Dab at the back of your ears and neck to stay cool. Run a shoelace through the sponge and hang it from your pack. These are usually available at drug stores, sometimes in the cosmetics department.” Blog at http://www.fixingyourfeet.com/blog. Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/fixingyourfeet
#4. Our next Patagonia shows are coming up soon: >Wednesday, July 24, 7:00 - 8:30 P.M. Susan and Ralph Alcorn give a digital slide show on Patagonia focusing on their travels and hiking in the region. While there in 2009 and 2010, the Alcorns backpacked the Circuit Route in Torres del Paine, Chile and hiked in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Also scenes of the Lake District; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. From their travels, came Susan Alcorn's most recent book, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine.
REI Sacramento, 1790 Expo Parkway, Sacramento, CA. Phone:(916) 924-8900. Free. Register online. http://www.rei.com/stores/sacramento.html
AND: Thursday, July 25, 2013. 7-8:30 P.M. Patagonia program repeats at Folsom REI, 2425 Iron Point Rd, Folsom, CA. Phone: (916) 817-8944 Free. Register online. http://www.rei.com/stores/folsom.html
#5. Cell Phones adventures in Europe. Amy Racina, author of Angels in the Wilderness, gives a first-hand account of her search for a reasonable way, and reasonable price for calling home from Europe. “I'm back now from a fantastic trip to Portugal and Croatia (with a brief stop off in Germany and Belgium.) It turns out that unlocking a cell phone in the U.S. became illegal in January of 2013 (you can bet the phone companies lobbied hard for that one) so getting my current phone unlocked was not an option. AT&T would have been happy to sell me a roaming package that would cost $1 to $2 per minute, depending on the country I was visiting.
I considered getting an unlocked phone on Amazon, as Susan suggested, but I [waited too long] to do that. So in the end, I went with Rick Steve's advice, and bought an unlocked phone in Lisbon. It took me a few tries: The first place wanted to sell me a phone for $50 Euros. The second place wanted to sell me a plan for their phone company. At the third place, they spoke no English. But at the forth place, they spoke English, sold me a phone for 17 Euros, and installed a sim chip for Portugal. As per Rick Steve's advice, I made sure everything worked before I left the store, and that I could call home, call within Portugal, to other countries, and also replace the sim chip when I got to a new country. The phone came with a charger that worked with European electrical current (Thanks, Ralph, for thinking of that) so I didn't have to deal with that problem. Later, I got a sim chip in Croatia, and put it into my phone, and was able to call home with no trouble. The only problem with this whole scheme was that instructions for my phone were only in Portuguese, so I couldn't read them. It worked out fine, as I only needed to call home, and occasionally within the country where I was, and I was able to figure that out without instructions.
The calls I made from Portugal to the US cost about 8 to 10 cents a minute. Croatia was more costly, and cost about 75 cents a minute. Here's the link to RickSteves'. You might want to include the website you recommended to me that sells sim chips. Ralph comments: There are others, but we get ours from Rebelfone --they take a credit card number and charge you after the trip and monthly if it’s a long trip.
You might also include Ralph's reminder about having an adapter and a plug with the right current and the right electrical outlet for the country in which you are traveling.
#6. Backpacker.com has an article and slides showing how to make a survival bracelet out of paracord that could be used for everything from a tourniquet to fishing line. See how at http://www.backpacker.com/skills-survival-bracelet/slideshows/117?position=2. If you don’t want to make one, you can buy one ready-made from Survival Straps or various other manufacturers. Purchasing is more costly, but convenient.
#7. Megan Hettwer writes article about safer travel for women traveling solo: http://www.womensadventuremagazine.com/travel/10-tips-for-safe-solo-travel-for-women/
#8. Free book to the first person who responds. I mentioned a book, Reckoning at Hart's Pass by Elizabeth Macalaster last month. In the new novel, you’ll meet a retired FBI agent hiking the Pacific Crest Trail against terrorists. PCT hikers will recognize the stops along the trail. I’ll mail my (new condition) copy, free, to the first person who responds to this offer. (backpack45 at sign yahoo.com)
#9. Back pain! If you have chronic back pain, walking can be as beneficial as a strength-training program targeting abdominal and back muscles. Participants exercised twice weekly working up to 60-minutes per session. At six weeks, the groups had similar reductions in pain and disability. This finding was attributed to an Israeli study in Clinical Rehabilitation. This has definitely been my experience—and I certainly prefer hiking to working out at the gym.
#10. In the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter for July 2013, we read that “Mental and physical activity help enhance cognitive function in older people and the amount of activity may be more important than the type." The study was of 125 sedentary people over the age of 65 who had memory problems, but not dementia. For 12 weeks they did 3 weekly one-hour sessions of mental exercise and three one-hour sessions of physical activities and concluded from the findings that the key was staying active and stimulated.
#11. Repeat below of June item with intro info about the GR65—a French hiking route.
France has hiking trails seemingly everywhere and they are identified by GR numbers (Gran Randomme (grand route). Our hike was on the GR65, which starts in Geneva and goes to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Last year we went from Geneva to Gran Lemps, FR and this year from Gran Lemps to Le Puy--this completed our section-hike of this 1,158-mile route across France and Spain.
Increasing numbers of people now walk the GR65, generally called the Le Puy route, but most start their hikes further west/southwest in Le Puy itself. We saw very few people on the trail. It may well be that those hiking from Germany, Switzerland, and other European points started their even longer hikes earlier in the spring and it may also be because this section of trail was only relatively recently established.
On their website, the Confraternity of Saint James, “Unlike the other pilgrim roads through France which have followed more or less fixed itineraries for several hundreds of years, the Via Gebennensis is a "designer route," set up in the mid-1990s by the Association Rhône-Alpes des Amis de Saint-Jacques as a continuation of the GR 65 to enable pilgrims coming from Switzerland, Germany and Central Europe to walk to Le Puy in order to continue on to Santiago from there. It is therefore not a historic route but a bridging service between two points, a means of walking from Geneva to Le Puy-en-Velay on quiet, waymarked forest tracks, old lanes, footpaths and minor roads.”
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
This is a relatively short newsletter because Ralph and I have just returned from a hiking/backpacking trip in France and it’s going to take me a while to put together a comprehensive trip report.
France has hiking trails seemingly everywhere and they are identified by GR numbers (Grande Randonnée (grand route)). Our hike was on the GR 65, which starts in Geneva, SW and goes to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Last year we went from Geneva to Gran Lemps, FR and this year from Gran Lemps to LePuy, FR. This completes our walk on this 1,158-mile route across France and Spain.
Increasing numbers of people now walk the GR65, generally called the LePuy route, but most start their hikes further west/southwest in LePuy itself. We saw very few people on the trail this year or last. It may well be that those hiking from Germany/Switzerland/other European points started their even longer hikes earlier in the spring and it may also be because this section of trail was only relatively recently established.
At their website, the Confraternity of Saint James says, “Unlike the other pilgrim roads through France which have followed more or less fixed itineraries for several hundreds of years, the Via Gebennensis is a "designer route," set up in the mid-1990s by the Association Rhône-Alpes des Amis de Saint-Jacques as a continuation of the GR 65 to enable pilgrims coming from Switzerland, Germany and Central Europe to walk to Le Puy in order to continue on to Santiago from there. It is therefore not a historic route but a bridging service between two points, a means of walking from Geneva to Le Puy-en-Velay on quiet, waymarked forest tracks, old lanes, footpaths and minor roads.”
For us, this was a beautiful hike and one of my favorite Camino sections. I am looking forward to relaying more information about it next month.
#1. You can get shoes to people who need them by supporting Soles for Souls. This organization accepts new or gently worn shoes (website gives locations), and takes donations to send shoes to those in need worldwide.
#2. At April’s ADKPCTO (kickoff for those embarking on a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail) there were reportedly five people who required medical intervention for severe dehydration. As you can well imagine, this situation brought forth many comments and hints about safe hiking in desert conditions.
Experienced hiker, Herb Stroh, posted the following “Desert Hiking Techniques.”
“Recent postings regarding dehydrated hikers have raised the question of proper planning and preparation. Hiking in dry desert conditions presents unique challenges. While it may be too late to help the 2012 class, a discussion on the topic of desert hiking will help future candidates. Below is a list of techniques I picked up over the years:
1. Recognize that desert hiking is very different than forest hiking. In the desert you must practice water management-know where reliable sources exist and how much water your body needs given the time, temperature, terrain, and distance between refills. Have sufficient water containers to cover your longest waterless sections. In the Grand Canyon hikers say "hike from water not to it." That is, leave a water source with adequate provisions to make it to the next known water rather than run out and have to hike on to your next drink.
2. Ask hikers heading in the opposite direction about water availability. Opposite-bound hikers are a great source of fresh data. We met just two other groups of hikers when on a section of the Grand Enchantment Trail, and spent 95% of our conversation briefing each other on water locations. The information proved invaluable to us in locating an elusive but necessary spring.
3. Have a sense of how much water you need given the conditions. This is where actual desert hiking experience is so helpful. Constantly monitor the amount of water you need given perceived heat and exertion, and over time you will have a sense of how many litters it takes to go a given distance in hot, dry conditions. The sweet spot is always having enough to make it to the next source even if delayed, without dead-heading too much extra water. Err on the side of too much until you have a handle on your own water needs.
4. For me, I find sipping often to be the most efficient method of consumption. I use a camelback, but keep it in a side pocket so that I can easily reach around and check my water supplies. (Keep it cool and protected from brush by wrapping it in your Tyvek groundsheet). Avoid breathing through your mouth, which expels more moisture. If you are not urinating or the urine is dark, these are indications of insufficient water intake so drink more. Camel up at water sources by drinking more water than normal. I have seen army studies that say it is no more energy efficient to carry water in your belly than in your pack, but I beg to differ. I can feel a liter on my back but not in my stomach, so I still use this technique.
5. It is better to drink possibly tainted water than to dehydrate. Getting sick days later beats dying today. We have chased off cows from nasty-looking water holes and drank some foul stuff, but it got is by and we did not get sick.
6. Avoid hiking in the heat of the day. In the Grand Canyon during the summer they close the corridor trails at the hottest part of the day to try and keep the foreign tourists from frying their brains. So much of smart hiking is not conquering the environment but conforming to it. In hot and dry conditions, rise early and pound the miles in the cool early morning hours. As the heat rises, slow the pace. During the hot part of the day, take a nap in the shade, then resume hiking when the heat breaks. Hike into the evening. During the day use shade when you happen upon it for rest breaks, to check the map, or adjust the pack. Never waste a trail-side patch of shade.
Everyone recognizes that they will cover less miles in the Sierra due to snow. One must similarly respect desert conditions and adjust daily goals commensurate with heat and water availability.
7. Keep the sun off of your head with a hat or umbrella. I also like wearing a long-sleeve loose fitting airy shirt which gives me the option of covering up if the sun it too intense or rolling up my sleeves for air flow. My preference is convertible pants so that I can easily go to shorts if desired.
8. Stay cool by wetting a bandana at every water source and wrap it around your neck. Wet your hat or other clothing as well. A neat trick is to soak a shirt or pack towel, seal it in a large zip lock, and store it in your pack. I know added weight is an anathema to distance hikers, but the cooling effect of a wetted shirt miles from the last water source is incredible.
9. I have not done it but others take a small spray bottle to mist their face to cool down. I was "misted" by a ranger on the Bright Angel Trail, whose sole job was to spray hikers with water as they walked by and make sure no one killed themselves in the heat.” [Reprinted with permission from Herb with my thanks.]
#3. The newsletter from the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) entitled Trail Dirt from [thanks to Peter Kirby for forwarding] sends the following recommendation of author Elizabeth Macalaster's new novel, Reckoning at Hart's Pass, which pits a retired FBI agent hiking the Pacific Crest Trail against terrorists.
“Luke Chamberlin is hiking to free himself from feelings of doubt about his past career, his shaky marriage, and the person he's become. Part way up the trail, an urgent message from a stranger indicates that trouble lies ahead near the Canadian border. Luke sets aside his unwillingness to get involved and puts together a renegade team of law enforcement officers to check out the northern border. At a charred campsite high in the Washington Cascades the team finds more than they bargained for. They organize a plan to stop a group of people determined to wreak havoc on the West Coast. But not before Luke puts the operation and everything he stands for, in jeopardy.
“Elizabeth Macalaster is from New England. She studied marine biology and began her writing career as a science journalist. Her husband, Dan Sayner, was a 1980 U.S. Olympian and 2004 PCT thru-hiker, worked counterintelligence and counterterrorism programs for the FBI. He is a PCTA member and served as the technical editor for the novel.” [On Amazon.com $10.81 when I checked.]
#4. Last month I mentioned a product, Hoo Rag, which is a stretchy tube that can be used around your neck or head for any number of hiking uses. Marcy writes "Turtle Fur makes a stretchy tube called (appropriately) "Totally Tubular".... it can do all those things spoken about in #12 on your last newsletter.... I love it...have 2... one in red bandana pattern, and one in camo.... I wear it when I bike...to keep the wind off my ears, and to keep my hair out of my face.... yeah.... and it was nice for snow shoeing too.... and skiing.... it would be useful for backpacking to keep the hair out of my eyes, and would be something warm to pull on after the sun goes down, altho. it's not real warm...so another layer would help.”
#5. Barbara Egbert (trailname Nellie Bly), has an interesting article about the increased numbers of backpackers on the Pacific Crest Trail this year and the possible impact of the wildly popular Strayed book, “Wild.” Barbara Egbert has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. She is the author of Zero Days: The Real-Life Adventure of Captain Bligh, Nellie Bly, and 10-Year-Old Scrambler on the Pacific Crest Trail. Contact her in care of email@example.com
#6. Jason Waicunas, Planning Committee Outreach, posts on Facebook, “The 7th annual Pacific Crest Trail Days will take place on Thunder Island of the Marine Park in Cascade Locks, Oregon on September 6-8, 2013.”
“Activities include classes, gear raffles, music, movies, and outdoor gear demos. The event is an annual fundraiser that raises revenue for the non-profit Pacific Crest Trail Association, which oversees the management of the Pacific Crest Trail. Funds are raised by donations from exhibitors / vendors / sponsors, attendees, and raffle ticket sales. It's a fun time and a beautiful location for a great cause.”
Jason Waicunas, event coordinator is looking for new committee members, “I'm looking for people that possess the following:
1. Ability to obtain vendors / sponsors.
2. Contacts with outdoor recreation gear / product manufacturers.
3. Advertising connections and experience.
4. Fundraising connections.
5. Event planning.
If you are interested, email to: pctdays "at sign" gmail.com
#7. Exploring Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park & More – a digital slide show by Susan and Ralph Alcorn at Sacramento area REI stores in July.
Join Susan Alcorn, author of Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine, for a digital presentation of her recent backpacking trips with her husband on the park’s classic routes–the “W” and the “O” circuit. Susan will also share highlights of their adventures exploring Chile’s picturesque Lake District, penguin-watching in the Magdalena and Marta Islands , day-tripping in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park , and enjoying the vibrant cities of Santiago and Buenos Aires. If you register for this free presentation at www.rei.com/stores, we will hold a seat for you until the scheduled start time. Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed.
7 pm–8:30 pm, Wednesday, July 24 in Sacramento, CA
7 pm–8:30 pm, Thursday, July 25 in Folsom, CA
#8. It you are looking for a new backpack, one consideration is what torso length you should get. Granite Gear offers this info: “To find your torso length, measure the distance between your seventh cervical vertebra and the shelf of your hipbones. Do this by standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Tilt your head forward and place your hands on your hips, thumbs to the back. With a flexible tape, have someone measure from the most prominent vertebra at the base of your neck to an imaginary line drawn between your thumbs. This will be your torso length.” http://www.granitegearstore.com/Vapor-Trail-P8.aspx.
#9. “Trading W-Fi for wildlife can help you think.” So reads a report on a study reported on by AARP in their April/May 2013 issue. “Four days in nature without technology improved creativity by 50% for hikers in a recent study.” I’d like a bit more info on the issue, but I’m happy to read support for what I believe to be true!
#10. To find out where wildfires are burning, check out this new link, http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
#11. You can see the new live streaming of Yosemite Falls established by Yosemite Conservancy at this link, click here.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Most of you are from the large group that attended our April 9th program on the Camino de Santiago at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center in Lafayette, CA. We had a great time sharing our slides and info and enjoyed the wonderful reception that we got and the well thought out questions. My only regret is that so many people had to sit on the floor or stand for the show. We are discussing with the library the possibility of returning in the fall. If you have ideas for a similar program in your neck of the woods—preferably with more seatingJ--please let me know.
Recently read about someone having problems washing his sleeping bag, which surprised me because I have washed mine several times with no problems. I decided to ask around and received a few responses including this one: “I have washed my zero degree Eastern Mountain Sports down bag two or three times, (it’s about 12 years old), with great results.
It is worth it to go to a Laundromat with a large commercial washer and dryer. Might take $6 or $7 worth of quarters, but it is worth it. Then take it out and let it drip for a few minutes, DO NOT WRING IT. Then into the large commercial dryer with tennis balls (3) minimum, or a clean pair of tennis shoes. Tumble on LOW, take it out and fluff it a few times, so it may take a few hours and a few quarters.”
I have washed mine in a similar fashion and I have also used a variation: I do this during a warm stretch of weather. Using special soap for down (REI or similar), I fill the bathtub with warm water, dump the bag in and swish it around for a few minutes. Let the soapy water drain out. Replenish water, agitate, and repeat until water is clear. Allow the bag to drain on its own for a while, then carefully supporting it, load it into a laundry basket or similar. Allow it to dry fully supported on a table, or other large surface, outdoors. It’ll probably take a day or two to dry. Then I take it to the Laundromat to fluff it up—using a tennis ball if I can find one.
The main cautions are: not let the weight of the wet down tear apart the baffling inside the bag and the tennis balls are to help fluff up the down.
Get ready: “Hike Naked Day” is June 21, 2013 (Solstice). www.hikingnaked.com (I’m planning on staying homeJ
Marcy added to the list of what you can do with extra sock, “and don't forget...socks helped pad my shoulder straps on my old backpack....but don't need them now...new pack! New Straps!“
It’s always nice to have our observations confirmed by scientific studies. An AHA (American Health Assoc) conducted a study of more than 33,060 runner and 15,045 regular walkers for six years and found that ifthey burnedthesame number of calories during exercise, they had similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Comparison was approx. 1 mile of running to 1.4 miles of walking. The risk for diabetes by both groups was about 12% less than for non-exercisers.
In addition, the longer the run or walk, the greater the benefit. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity such as brisk walking per week for adults to 64 years, or about 75 minutes of vigorous exercise such as running per week. Link to study: http://bit.ly/Zb8TCV. Link to CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html
In the U.S., West Nile Disease is the main issue with mosquitoes, but there are other mosquito borne diseases out there that can be acquired—such as dengue fever—in the U.S. There have been cases of dengue reported in Texas, Florida, and Hawaii in recent years. If you are heading for mosquito territory, consider spraying, or immersing your clothing, beforehand in a repellent. See here for map: http://www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/
You can also purchase clothing items that are pre-treated, but the treatment eventually wears off, so you need to re-treat it from time to time. We use Sawyers’, which is available at REI and other outdoor retailers.
The CDC recommends these products along with the comment that the efficacy varies depending on percentage of the active ingredients, and how much the person is perspiring, etc.
DEET (Chemical Name: N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethly-3-methyl-benzamide)
Picaridin (KBR 3023, Chemical Name: 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperidinecarboxylic acid 1-methylpropyl ester )
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus* or PMD (Chemical Name: para-Menthane-3,8-diol) the synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus
IR3535 (Chemical Name: 3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester)
Other ideas for avoiding mosquito problems include staying indoors during the time that mosquitoes are most active—which is not too practical for long-distance hikers! Interestingly the CDC commented that the mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus are most active sundown through sunrise. Good reason to conduct a search or your tent before you bed down for the night and keep your tent zipped.
The CDC still rates products containing DEET as most effective, but other products may be effective for varying amounts of time. Go here to read more.
Bedbugs can be a problem to travelers—and not just to those who are hiking the Camino de Santiago (though that’s where I most frequently hear concerns raised.) However, they certainly do not affect everyone; Ralph and I have been on Camino hikes 10 different times and have not encountered them. Most people aren’t. However, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The CDC has the following list of recommendations on their site.
Getting medical care while abroad. We have had a couple of experiences trying to get medical abroad and had no problem getting quality and timely care, but just in case, you might want to be covered for travel in more off-the-beaten track, you might want to read the CDC’s article, Getting Health Care Abroad before you go. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/GetCareAbroad/index.html
We recently reviewed Tell it on the Mountain - Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail, which is “a newly released two-hour documentary that follows a half dozen of the 300 or so hikers who attempt the Pacific Crest Trail every year. While much of the film was shot by professionals, the producers did something a little different. They gave cameras to individual hikers, which help provide an intimate look into their adventure.” (from the producers).
After thoroughly enjoying the DVD, I wrote the following review at Amazon.com, Tell it on the Mountain -- Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail brings us the stories of a half-dozen amazing backpackers. You meet an engaged couple planning to get married while on the trail; a second couple forced to deal with a serious medical emergency; Scott Williamson, who has “yo-yo” hiked the trail (gone border to border and then back again) twice and set various speed records, and the legendary “Billy Goat” who says he will only stop hiking the PCT when he can no longer walk. We also meet “Trail Angel” Donna Saufley on the trail. Donna and her husband Jeff play host to hundreds of PCT hikers at their home in Agua Dulce each year.”
PCT class of 2010 "reunion" trail crew/ Cari and Pete Tucker firstname.lastname@example.org are looking for several volunteer to work on PCT trail near Portland, OR.
“Greetings, PCT 2010 hikers, Game on!! Sandals and Sheepdog are now actively recruiting for the previously announced Class of 2010 "reunion" trail crew. We're scheduled for August 10th-17th, 2013 on a section of the PCT near Portland that will be selected once the snow is out and the PCTA has assessed maintenance needs in the area. Check out the new "PCT 2010 trail crew" Facebook page for all the details. You can: "Like" the page to receive updates as planning for the "reunion" crew moves forwards; share the page with your hiking buddies, encouraging them to join the fun; see who is attending by checking out the August 10th-17th work crew "event" on the page' sign up for the crew by selecting the work crew "event," and pressing the "join" button. Feel free to post a comment on the event "wall" while you're at it. Don't be shy about signing up --if we don't get enough 2010 hikers to fill a complete work crew, we'll just cancel the event. After all, what fun is a reunion if you're the only one there? . . . .On the other hand, we only need 12 to make it a go-- grab your friends and come on!"
Andrew Skurka is giving numerous "Circling Alaska & Yukon" slideshows or "Backpacking Gear, Supplies & Skills" clinics this spring. Check his website for time and more details, click here.
A woman with the trail name of Calipidder has an interesting blog. Calipidder is explained as "[kal-uh-pid-er] - noun: Free Range Backpacker, Climber, Runner, Gear Nerd," and her blog is here.
Upon reading her post of April 30, 2013, I learned about “hoo rag,” a stretchy tube made of synthetic material which has numerous uses: beanie, headband, neck gaiter, pirate cap, balaclava, etc. I’m definitely going to get one and give it a try. The selection of pattern is fun! You can go to http://www.hoorag.com and look around.
Tilden Regional Park Hike. Saturday, May 11, 2013, 10:00 a.m. Info on Facebook under Peregrinos – Northern California
“Bobbi Bader is leading us on a moderate eight-mile hike in Tilden Regional Park, located in the hills above Berkeley. We’ll meet at Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road at 10:00 and start our hike by 10:15 descending into Laurel Canyon with a short stop at Jewel Lake to view the ducks and turtles sunning themselves (restrooms at the nearby Visitor Center). Traversing fern covered pathways reminiscent of Costa Rica, we will then pass through a Redwood grove and have a lunch/snack stop at Lake Anza. We amble through scenic gorges before ascending back to the cars.
This is a wonderful opportunity to get together with fellow pilgrims! If you are yet to experience the Camino, bring your questions so you can get advice from seasoned pilgrims. Dress for the weather and bring your camera, lunch and water along with your hat, sunscreen and hiking poles.
To Reach the Park: There are many entrances to Tilden Regional Park (see attached map for details). If you’re not familiar with the park, the easiest access to Inspiration Point is from its east side via Wildcat Canyon Road, which is off San Pablo Dam Road just north of Orinda Village (take the Orinda exit off Highway 24 east of the Caldecott Tunnel). Inspiration Point is at the top of the hill. Map here.
Note: There are restrooms at Inspiration Point, but no water. Also, since there are many cyclists on the roads on Saturdays, allow extra driving time.
I received the following earlier this week and found it enticing. We all know about Kickstarter projects, but not knowing Scott personally, I can’t vouch for him or his project, but I definitely think it is worth checking out. “My Name is Scott and I am a filmmaker and outdoor enthusiast from Seattle, WA. I contacted you because we have a mutual appreciation for the outdoors and nature. I am filming a new documentary movie about the search for grizzly bears in the North Cascades National Forest in an attempt get the first ever documented video footage of a grizzly bear in the North Cascades. This film "Cascade Giants" will be a powerful visual journey of exploration & beauty in a search for the last of the remaining Grizzlies in this area. We are trying to raise funding for this project through a KickStarter campaign..."
Susan’s recent blogs that you may find of interest:
Dates and details will come out in the next issue of this newsletter, but if you live in Sacramento or Folsom areas, you’ll be able to see our Patagonia program at the REI stores in July.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
#1. It’s a big win for many hikers—starting April 25, the TSA will allow passengers to carry-on small knives (less than 2.36” long/1/2” wide blade) and regular hiking poles. Ever since 9/11, these items have been illegal to pack in carry-on luggage. This change in policy will make things more convenient for many hikers and backpackers. No more fears about losing that small Swiss Army knife that you neglected to leave at home. No need to be concerned about how to pack hiking poles so that they remain intact until your destination.
It’s usually $20 per car to enter Yosemite (unless you have a pass), but on April 22-26 (during National Parks Week); Aug. 25 (National Park Service Birthday); Sep. 28 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 9-11 (Veteran’s Day weekend), the entrance fees to all of our national parks are waived. (209)372-0200. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm. Note: 265 of your 398 national parks never charge an entrance fee.
The FDA recently announced that women who take Ambien (sleeping pill) should take only half the dose previously recommended. That works out to 5 mg. for the regular; 6.25 mg. for extended release. They suggest that men also start with the smaller dose and increase only to the point where they don't experience next-day drowsiness. No spoiler here, you can read about my experience with Ambien in my Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine.
Dual usage by Warner Springs Monty Tam, “The wax from Babybel cheese makes amazing earplugs to sleep on the bus.....or trail.” Mike Cunningham adds, “They also burn as a candle (with tp inside) for about 10 minutes.”
Details are still missing on this, but on March 22, this info was posted on the American Pilgrims on the Camino Facebook page. A pilgrim, initials, G.C.J, died on the Camino, while attempting to cross the Pyrenees by the Route Napoleon, which is high crossing route between St. Jean Pied du Port and Roncesvalles. He had been missing for several days before he was spotted by someone else walking in the vicinity, who then notified local search and rescue. The Mountain Rescue Unit of the Guardia Civil and SOS Navarra near Roncesvalles said that G.C.J. appeared to have died from a fall off a cliff in a rugged area of the Camino, near Mt. Ortzanzurieta (1.567 metres). His backpack, walking staff and other belongings were found with him. The Guardia Civil says that the victim was 43 years old, and of Brazilian origin, though he had Canadian nationality.
Reminder: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 7:00 PM. Susan and Ralph Alcorn will give a digital slide show on the pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA 94549. (925) 385-2283.
Since 2001, independent travelers Susan and Ralph Alcorn have walked more than 1,800 miles through France, Portugal, and Spain, following ancient pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, the reputed burial place of the disciple Saint James. Susan will give a digital presentation of their five-week trek along Spain’s most traveled route, the 500-mile Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago, and will share a few highlights of their days on pilgrimage paths in France. Come walk with Susan through quaint medieval towns in the high mountains of the Pyrenees, across the fertile red soils of the Rioja region, to the lush green Galician Hills.
Sustainable Lafayette Earth Day. Come by the Authors' Table at Sustainable Lafayette Earth Day celebration on Sunday, April 21, at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation (Lafayette, CA). Get your signed copy of Patagonia Chronicle; Camino Chronicle;or We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill. Or, just say hi. Chance to win a free copy!
Lafayette’s 8th Annual Earth Day Celebration will be 11:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. (parade leaves Stanley Middle School at 10:45 A.M.)
“Sustainable Lafayette, the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, the City of Lafayette, and the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce invite you to Lafayette’s 8th annual Earth Day Picnic & Celebration! For over 40 years, Earth Day has inspired and mobilized individuals and organizations worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to environment protection and sustainability. In Lafayette we will be celebrating our efforts to protect our environment with a community celebration at the beautiful Lafayette Library.”
There will be food, live music, bounce house and crafts for kids, as well as Interactive activities from Lawrence Hall of Science and Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Visit the No-Waste Zone – Get inspired, educated and involved in the City of Lafayette’s goal to reduce waste. Get help at Stanley: Helmet/Seat/Tire adjustment by Sharp Bicycle, or with electronic waste recycling.
"Join the popular self-propelled parade, which will depart Stanley at 10:45 A.M. Bring your festively decorated bike, skateboard, scooter, wagon, or just your feet. Great for kids and adults!"
Youth Camping Grants are again being made available at Lassen Volcanic National Park. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anderson, Calif. – The Lassen Park Foundation (LPF) is inviting groups that help children in need to apply for Youth Camping Grants by May 1.
“Last year, we awarded 26 grants to groups of challenged youth from Northern California and Southern Oregon,” said LPF Chairman John Koeberer. “Each grant provides up to $1,000 to take kids camping in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Often, this is the first camping experience and the first visit to a national park for these children.”
“Kids helped by these grants are at risk. They’re often homeless, from broken homes, or in situations where their families just can’t afford to take them camping,” said Koeberer, “The grants paid for camping supplies, transportation and food for nearly 500 kids and their chaperones. Koeberer continued, “Last year, Lassen Volcanic provided close to 100 days of camping and activities for these groups. The kids learned how to camp, gained an appreciation for nature and worked on service projects, building self-confidence, independence, teamwork, a sense of ownership of the national park and a love of the outdoors. Kids leave inspired by what they accomplished and by Lassen Volcanic, making this one of the most gratifying programs we do,” said Koeberer.
To qualify for a grant, Group leaders must establish that their kids need financial assistance. They must also organize the camping trip, provide adult supervision and insurance. “That’s all we ask,” said Koeberer. Information about applying for an LPF Youth Camping Grant can be obtained by calling 530-378-2600, emailing email@example.com or visiting www.lassenparkfoundation.org.
The Lassen Park Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that provides philanthropic support to preserve and interpret the natural and cultural resources of Lassen Volcanic National Park and its environs, for present and future generations. Areas of focus include youth programs, enhanced interpretive and educational activities, trail restoration, wildlife research, and cultural development.
Regional: Big Basin Walkabout. American Pilgrims Northern CA branch hike on May 25. "This hike to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin State Park will be a more strenuous 6 hour walk with an elevation change of approx. 2000 feet (think of a full Camino day to O'Cebreiro) Pilgrims will enjoy scenic views of Redwoods, Waterfalls and Ocean as well as the changing flora and fauna as we pass through regions of different geological origin. Please bring water, lunch, sunscreen and a hat and layered clothing.
Meeting point can be at 9:30 at San Lorenzo Valley High School on HWY 9 in Felton for those who want to carpool from there and save on park fees and at 10:00
for everybody else at the Ranger Station/ Visitor Center at the official entrance of Big Basin State Park off HWY 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006.
For a detailed description of the hike, maps and directions refer to the Big Basin State Park web site.
But here is a brief version;
For those who want to make it a weekend trip, there is plenty of lodging available in Boulder Creek (Campgrounds at Big Basin or Henry Cowell State Parks) in Santa Cruz, Capitola or at Costa Noa, North off HWY 1, just South of Pigeon Point Lighthouse. They offer tent or wood cabins and a campground and restaurant if you want to be off the beaten path and close to the ocean.
If you do Facebook, you can follow the antics of "Boots" McFarland Cartoon as she hikes through the mountains making funny (mostly true) observations.
Lyme Disease is named after the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, where the first U.S. cases were reported. This bacterial disease has existed in Europe for more than 100 years. It has increasingly become a problem in the California and the rest of the U.S. Here are some facts to know:
There are dozens of species of ticks in California; only the western black-legged tick is “of importance” in the transmission of Lyme Disease to humans.
Life cycle of the Western Black-Legged Tick:
Prevention tactics for hikers:
Bay Area residents are lucky to have Western Fence Lizards living nearby. There is an ingredient in the Western Fence Lizards’ blood that kills the Lyme Disease bacteria in the Western Black-legged tick. The main host on the east coast is the white-footed rat, which can host the ticks. This reportedly accounts for the large difference in incidence between west and east.
(from Living with Ticks, a pamphlet by Alan Kaplan for the East Bay Regional Park District www.ebparks.org)
More info at Center for Disease Control
Llama walks in East Bay Regional Park. This link will take you to my most recent blog, which is about walks you can take with llamas (family friendly). The photos are from Machu Picchu, Peru.
Regional: Santa Cruz+. Melissa West, a Camino hiker and artist, sends the following: April News from Melissa West.
Art Reception: April 5, 2013. "You and your friends are invited to join me at a reception for my current show at the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission offices. Here are the details: "Dreaming in Color" reception. Friday, April 5, 2013. 5pm - 7pm. SCCRTC offices, 1523 Pacific Avenue, 2nd floor, Santa Cruz, CA.
"I hope to be leading two or three one-day linoleum block workshops in May. Also, I'll be taking part in the Monterey Peninsula Printmakers' Club's annual show at the Felix Kulpa Gallery in May. This year the show's title is "Myths, Lies, and Legends." And I'll be back at the Abbey for another show. May is shaping up to be a busy month! More details will come soon. See my work online at www.mswest.com"
(The Gull, Spring 2013) "The Clever Scrub-Jay" by Judith Dunham. I knew that Western Scrub-Jays were members of the corvid family (which also includes crows, ravens magpies) and were known for their intelligence. What I didn't know is that (according to New Zealand researchers) New Caledonian Crows are as adept as chimpanzees at tool making and then using these tools to get food.
Also found it interesting that the scrub-jay, which buries many more acorns than it will ever find again), will also will bury a peanut (or other food to be stored) and then cover the site with a leaf or piece of bark. They are alert to any potential robbers and will dig up and rebury an acorn if it thinks another bird saw it bury it the first time!
Thanks for everything, contributors!
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Earth Day, officially April 22, is being celebrated by many municipalities and organizations on the preceding weekend, April 20-21. Be sure to find a suitable way to make your contribution and mark it on your calendar early.
The California State Parks Foundation is planning its 16th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup even earlier— Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This program is supported by PG&E at select state parks across California and volunteers are needed. Registration will be open on their website from March 4 to April 8 – so mark your calendars. (You must register to attend.) Link here.
“Volunteers will be needed to help complete environmental improvement projects such as trail maintenance, installation of fences, trash/debris cleanup, weeding and campfire center improvements. Hope to see you there!”
Our beleaguered State Parks need all the help they can get—and they have many opportunities for volunteers to help out. On March 23, they are having their first volunteer workday at Salt Point State Park in Sonoma County. Pre-registered volunteers are eligible for free camping on that Friday and Saturday.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013. 7:00 PM. Susan and Ralph Alcorn give a digital slide show on the Camino de Santiago at Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3941 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA 94549. (925) 385-2283.
The announcement: "Since 2001, independent travelers Susan and Ralph Alcorn have walked more than 1,800 miles through France, Portugal, and Spain, following ancient pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, the reputed burial place of the disciple Saint James. Susan will give a digital presentation of their five-week trek along Spain’s most traveled route, the 500-mile Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago, and will share a few highlights of their days on pilgrimage paths in France. Come walk with Susan through quaint medieval towns in the high mountains of the Pyrenees, across the fertile red soils of the Rioja region, to the lush green Galician Hills."
Camino Guide: Ralph recently reviewed a new book, The Northern Caminos, by Laura Perazzoli and Dave Whitson, a Cicerone Guide. Available on Amazon UK now, on Amazon.com April 30.
“I’m quite pleased with this little gem from the Cicerone Guide series. My only reservation is the weight - at 3/4 of a pound for this 4 1/2 by 6 3/4 inch volume, it weighs more than my Kindle. When I use it on a trip, I will be cutting out everything that does not directly apply to my route….. You do get quality for that weight. Water resistant, heavy white glossy paper is durable and shows off the color maps and photographs well.
“The first forty pages include the overview map and the introduction, covering such subjects as The story of St. James, choosing your Camino, when to go, equipment, and many similar topics. This material is covered in almost all books about the various Caminos, and I think that Perazzoli and Whitson have done a better job of it than I have seen anywhere else. Clear, succinct but nothing of importance left out…
“The rest of the book is devoted to the day by day route descriptions, the Camino del Norte in 31 stages, the Camino Primitivo in 12 stages, the Camino Inglés in 4 stages, and the Camino Finisterre in 3 stages.
“Start location, finish, distance, total ascent & descent, difficulty rating, and albergues encountered…. general description of the stage[s], color topographic map of the stage[s], 1:50,000 with a 1 km grid…things of interest, ruins, junctions, pharmacies, bars, etc.” backpack45.com, timecheck00.blogspot.com
Winter Pilgrim reaches Peru on her northern walk. I am following the blog of a most amazing woman, who calls herself “Winter Pilgrim.” She is hiking alone in South America—started in Chile and is now in Peru. I loved this line in Day 163’s installment, as she drops from the mountains into the jungle, “Passing through some unknown altitude, I hit a wall of humidity that made my hair curl so fast, my hat fell off.” She also says that during her journey she has probably talked to upwards of 8,000 people because she often has to ask for help finding routes and accommodations along her hike. “We need more pilgrims,” she says. "We need more peace in the world." You can follow Winter Pilgrim here.
Marcia Powers forwarded this intriguing pdf for hikers/backpackers. It is dated 2007, but had info new to all of us. Most of us don’t give much thought to legal issues when we set out backpacking beyond paying attention to where we need bear canisters and where we can legally camp, but perhaps we should do a read through about other issues that might arise. Click here.
For women only: I recently wrote about the many uses of socks beyond foot wear and that jogged a friend’s memory about an earlier era of backpacking. Jackie called to say, “Back in the 1950’s when we were backpacking in the Sierras, we all wore blue jeans and flannel shirts. There wasn’t lightweight gear (nor was there gear specifically designed for women). Our heavy packs would dig painfully into our shoulders. We came up with a solution—using Kotex to pad our shoulders.” Never underestimate the ingenuity of a hiker!
TheWayfarers have launched a new guidebook, “Walk Away Guide,” which you can download as a pdf, request by email, or order by telephone. The Wayfarers lead walking vacations throughout the world. They have produced a new, free 34 page guide to why exploring the world on foot is the best way to travel. The Walk Away Guide, by travel writer Everett Potter, also offers expert advice on how to choose a destination, how to prepare, what to pack and who you’ll meet. Potter writes, “'Even at two miles per hour – after all, this is not a race - the world can be so rich, so dense with history, meaning and beauty, that you may occasionally feel that you want to walk even slower. Walking is the most natural form of exercise and a walk through a landscape is the best way to get to know a place.'
“A walking vacation is the ultimate in slow travel. The Wayfarers believes it’s not just about ‘getting there’ but savouring the journey and noticing the details along the trail, which makes a vacation truly memorable. Just as the Slow Food Movement is about much more than eating, slow travel is about much more than reaching your destination.”
Brett Stuckel is the author of the new Camino book entitled Guided by Shadows. He mentions that it's a quick read of about 15,000 words and it's only $0.99 as an e-book. Brett who walked the Camino in 2005 and was a hospitalero in Viana, Najera & Santo Domingo in 2007 explains, “Guided by Shadows puts you on the path to Santiago. It reveals not only the joys and pains of the route, but also the mysteries, frustrations and absurdity of a 500-mile walking pilgrimage.” You can visit his website and see more about him. The book on Amazon is at this link.
I recently heard from a backpacking friend who we shared a PCT campsite with many years back. David is giving some thought to bicycling the Camino de Santiago. Although I haven’t developed a list of them, I know there are books about bicycling the Camino out there. However, there is also a free guide to the Galicia section of the trail available on the Xacobeo website. If you scroll down the page, you'll find a downloadable pdf on doing the French Way on bicycle—and also on foot! Click here.
Kimberlie Dame, a major hiker/backpacker/traveler, has an entertaining blog called The New Nomads. Her latest post, “101 More Truly Compelling Reasons to go on a Very Long-Distance” is fun to read.
Karen Najarian is the owner/manager of Sierra Spirit, which she launched when her trips with other companies became “so popular that she outgrew their capabilities.” Sierra Spirit specializes in taking new and experienced backpackers to world class destinations in Yosemite National Park and Inyo National Forest. Karen began leading backpackers for other companies in 1997 and ran the REI Yosemite program for 10 years. ‘We grew it from the first Yosemite trip of less than 5 to 260+ clients a summer on 28 trips with rave reviews and repeat guests bringing along friends and family.’" Link to Sierra Spirit.
Tom Courtney, author of Walkabout Northern California - Hiking Inn to Inn, will be wrapping up his Northern California book tour in March at these three REI stores. The events are free, but they may fill up, so check out the stores’ websites and register in advance. All of the presentations go from 7-8:30.
REI opens a new store in Jacksonville, FL today. A happy camper alerted me to this when she wrote, “REI opens their first Florida store: something us [sic] backpackers have been looking forward to for decades. No longer will we have to make the long drive to Atlanta in search of a wide selection of backpacking gear at reasonable prices.” She continues, “The first 200 people (age 12 and older) through the door on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive a limited-edition CamelBak water bottle with a $10, $25, $50 or $100 REI promotional gift card inside. Doors open at 10 AM Friday, 9 AM Saturday and 10 AM Sunday. And they’ll have a daily sweepstakes, too.” There’s also a free light breakfast served starting an hour before the opening times each day.
In addition, if you purchase an REI membership (buy once, get annual member refunds for life, well worth it) during the grand opening weekend, you’ll get a free limited-edition REI Sport Tech T-Shirt. Memberships are $20.” 4862 Big Island Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32246. Phone: 904-996-1613. Website here.·
Susan to focus on hiking/backpacking blog: I’ve decided to stop writing for Examiner.com and am now putting my energy into my blog because I like having my say over what ads are run (if any!). You can find me musing about hiking and the world at large: click here to read and/or follow.
#15. Adventurer Andrew Skurka brings his slide shows, “Circling Alaska & Yukon” to Texas, North Carolina, and along the east coast this month. He also has some openings (or waitlist spots) in his guided trips to such places as Shenandoah, VA; Olympic Ntl. Park, WA; and the Alaska Range that you can join. His speaking & slideshow schedule, click here. His guided trips schedule, click here.
Thanks for everything, contributors!
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Bruce Barton wrote, "If you want to know if your brain is flabby, feel your legs." Interestingly, I recently read that walking—especially in the woods as opposed to the city—is better exercise for the brain than working crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and similar games. Important for aging brains to consider!
We are looking forward to our February series of programs for the Bay Area REI stores on Patagonia and hope many of you will join us. The first one, in Fremont, will be this coming Tuesday, Feb. 5th. (photo at Los Pinguinos Reserve, Chile) “Exploring Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park and More: Majestic peaks, hanging glaciers, turquoise lakes, condors soaring overhead… southern Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park offers hikers some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the world. “Join Susan Alcorn, author of Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine, for a digital presentation of her recent backpacking trips with her husband on the park’s classic routes–the “W” and the “O” circuit. Susan will also share highlights of their adventures exploring Chile’s picturesque Lake District, penguin-watching in the Magdalena and Marta Islands, day-tripping in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, and enjoying the vibrant cities of Santiago and Buenos Aires. If you register for this free presentation at www.rei.com/stores, we will hold a seat for you until the scheduled start time.” Note: Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed. 7 pm–8:30 pm, Tuesday, February 5 at REI Fremont, CA 7 pm–8:30 pm, Tuesday, February 12 at REI Marina, CA 7 pm–8:30 pm, Wednesday, February 20 at REI San Carlos, CA 7 pm–8:30 pm, Wednesday, February 27 at REI Corte Madera, CA 7 pm–8:30 pm, Thursday, February 28 at REI Brentwood, CA
Another event coming up fast: Winter News from Melissa West: A Linoleum Block Workshop, Saturday and Sunday, February 2 & 3, 2013, 9am - 4pm each day. “Most people remember carving linoleum blocks from their art classes in elementary school. But linoleum block prints are not just for kids! I'm offering a two-day weekend workshop that will introduce students to the basics of linoleum block printing. “Students will learn how to plan, carve, and print a linoleum block print. Discussions will include how to think in black & white; how to plan your block; transferring a drawn image; carving techniques; different methods of printing; and easy ways to add color to your print. Class size is limited to 10, so sign up early! Introduction to Linoleum Block Printing Class: $150.00; Supplies: $25.00; Total cost: $175.00. Location: Michael Angelo Gallery & Studios, 1111-A River Street, Santa Cruz. See my work online at www.mswest.com. Melissa West is well known to many Bay Area (and beyond) residents for her Camino art inspired by her pilgrimage and other time spent in Spain.
Welcome to our new subscribers including those from the Delta-Sierra chapter of the Sierra Club. Ralph and I had the good fortune of being invited to give a Camino presentation to the group and we enjoyed their interest and enthusiasm. My apologies if I misspelled any names—please let me know of any corrections needed. (photo to left of the ladders in Torres del Paine) The group, which meets in Stockton, will have Rick Deutsch (Mr. Half Dome) as their featured speaker on Mon. Feb. 25th. Deutsch has hiked Half Dome 35 times.
Jane Blanchard has created a Pinterest board of books on the Camino. Link is here.
Ralph and I will be giving our Camino de Santiago presentation at the new Lafayette Library, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549. Click for map here: This will be on Tuesday, March 19th. 7 P.M. Come travel with us across the Pyrenees from France into Spain as millions of pilgrims have done before. www.lafayettelib.org
Sox or Socks? In December, this newsletter ran a list of things hikers could do with socks. Eloise sent word that Cheryl Strayed in her book “Wild” used her socks to pad her hips. Any other ideas?
According to www.jacobeo.net – The number of Americans on the Camino has more than doubled thanks to the movie "The Way." In 2011 there were 3334 Americans that got their Compostela and in 2012 that number went up to 7062! I know this Facebook page has more than doubled in less than a year.
American Pilgrims on the Camino Northern California Chapter is having their annual meeting on Sat. Feb. 9, 2013. “Old pilgrims, new pilgrims, soon to be pilgrims should join the Northern California chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino for our 3rd annual meeting and second pilgrim's blessing on February 9, 2013. The event will begin around 11:30 in the parish hall of Church of the Resurrection, 399 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, CA (same place as always). “Last spring we blessed 18 pilgrims leaving in 2012 for Spain and beyond. That blessing was a separate event and was quite special. This year we are combining the pilgrim's blessing with the chapter's annual meeting. Many folks leave for Spain in March and April. We want to be certain to have our local chapter's pilgrim's blessing for these folks and still allow you to participate in the national organization's annual meeting in March in Santa Barbara. Stay tuned for more information about the national Gathering (or check out the APOC website). The blessing will be the lead event at this annual meeting so arrive on time if you plan to participate. “Potluck lunch will follow the blessing. Plan to introduce yourself and, either ask a question if you're new to the Camino, or give advice if you're an experienced hand. “Please bring your best dishes, snacks or wine to the event. We would appreciate an RSVP from those of you planning to attend and who have not RSVP’d to date.” (photo from along the Camino Mozarabe in S. Spain)
I guess I never thought about it before, but I just read this and it makes sense: when choosing hiking clothing, consider that woven fabrics are better at preventing mosquito bites than knit fabrics are because of the greater porosity of the knitted items.
Give back to the Pacific Crest Trail: Cari and Pete Tucker (email here) are spearheading a trail crew of PCT alumni. “Greetings, 2010 hikers, Sandals and I (Sheepdog) are still planning a second try at organizing a PCT class of 2010 "reunion" trail crew. We've set aside August 10th-18th, 2013 as the dates for this project, so if you think you'd like to participate, please reserve the date (along with a week of your 2013 vacation time). We'll start recruiting in earnest in late March/early April. “The PCTA's Mount Hood chapter has again offered to help organize the work project, provided we can staff a full crew (10-12 volunteers). The exact location of the project will be determined once the spring snows start melting, and the PCTA determines where the trail is most in need of attention. “Sandals and I volunteered for our first trail crew last fall, and had a great time. But it also opened our eyes to the staggering amount of work required to keep a 2663 mile trail in good condition. Thanks to the efforts of past volunteers, the PCT was there for us in 2010. Please join us in doing the work necessary to pass this gift along to the next generation of hikers.”
Give back to the Camino: Rebekah Scott, who owns an albergue in Spain, writes “hospitaleros [are] needed this season at Casa Banderas in Vilachá, just before Portomarín, to work with South African Gordon Bell´s small, non-profit, renovated Galician farmhouse/albergue for two-week stretches. Like to cook? This is your gig! Contact Gordon at gordonbell(at)mweb.co.za. Tell em Reb sent you!
Amazing opportunity to learn with the best. “Backpack with me in 2013!” Says Andrew Skurka: “For 2013 I am offering four different types of learning-intensive trips: Level 1 - Backpacking Fundamentals: 3-day/2-night, 7 sessions Level 2 - Winter Backpacking: 3-day/2-night, 1 session, Colorado Level 2 - High Sierra Adventure: 7-day/6-night, 3 sessions Level 3 - Alaska Adventure: 7-day/6-night, 2 sessions “Registration for most trips will open to the public on Monday, February 4. I will send another email then. Demand for the 7-day trips in the High Sierra and in Alaska seems very high. If you hope to get on one of these trips, I'd advise you not to delay. I'm expecting all or most of the 3-day trips to eventually fill too. Complete trip information -- including trip types, schedule, locations, costs, etc. -- is now available: http://andrewskurka.com/guided-trips”
My two recent articles in Examiner.com focus on a guide who leads hikes in Torres del Paine in Chile. Check out: www.examiner.com/article/torres-del-paine-with-cvitanic-part-1 www.examiner.com/article/torres-del-paine-with-cvitanic-part-2-1
Reminder: Registration Closes March 1. The 16th Annual Gathering of Pilgrims, the “Hidden Life of the Camino” will be at the Old Mission Santa Barbara Renewal Center. March 15 - 17, 2013. The Hospitalero Training will take place March 12 - 14. Go to their site, click here, to register under National Events. The theme celebrates those things unseen or unnoticed along the trail. “The Gathering starts with the Thursday evening reception. It is your first, but by no means last, opportunity to mingle and catch up with old friends and the latest trail gossip. Sessions and presentations start Friday morning and continue through Sunday morning at 11:30. “Interspersed among them you will find sessions on bird life with Merry Roy; Geological features and rock formations will be discussed by Bruce Perry from the Department of Geological Sciences at California State University and Paul Dworian, Senior Geologist at URS-Alaska; Marsha Holm and Emilio Escudero will introduce two beautiful Monasteries, one in the mountains of Aragón, and the other south of Burgos; Marlena Lambert will show us some easy ways to support our physical and mental health during a long hike and many more interesting and informative sessions.”
Reminder: Pacific Crest Trail Days 2013 advance notice from Jason Waicunas of the Planning Committee Outreach. PCT DAYS 2013 is scheduled for September 6-8, 2013 in the Columbia River Gorge on Thunder Island in Cascade Locks, Oregon. Activities include classes, gear raffles, music, movies, and outdoor gear demos. The event is an annual fundraiser that raises revenue for the non-profit Pacific Crest Trail Association, which oversees the management of the Pacific Crest Trail. Funds are raised by donations from exhibitors / vendors / sponsors, attendees, and raffle ticket sales. It's a fun time and a beautiful location for a great cause. Look for updates at the PCTA website. (photo: Ralph on the PCT in WA. Why trail work is a never ending job!)
Reminder: Friday, September 27, 2013 for the ALHDA-West gathering. The American Long Distance Hikers Assoc. - West coast event will be at Camp Augusta, in Nevada City, CA. Posted by Whitney Allgood LaRuffa posted on ALDHA-West facebook page. Other pilgrims’ events (regional):
Colorado: The REI stores in Lakewood and Boulder are hosting presentations on the Camino next week with Camino veteran Gene McCullough. Monday, February 4, Lakewood REI Store, 5375 S Wadsworth Blvd, Lakewood, CO 80123. (303) 932-0600. Thursday, February 7, Boulder REI Store, 1789 28th St, Boulder, CO 80301, (303) 583-9970. “The presentation will cover the historical and cultural background of the Camino and the practicalities of walking the route. Whether you have only heard of the Camino and are looking for more information (or you saw the film 'The Way') or whether you are actively planning your trip, this talk will be of interest. Free but a reservation is recommended to guarantee a seat.” North Carolina: Be at REI for 'Basic Planning for the Camino' on Monday, February 4, 2013, 7:00 p.m. Asheville REI, 31 Schenck Parkway, Asheville, NC 28803, 828-687-0918. “Free but space is limited! RSVP Chris Slater at WesternNorthCarolinaChapter@americanpilgrims.com (not to REI). “Advice for prospective pilgrims–when to go, where to start, how to get there, what to take, what not to take and what to expect when you’re there. Experienced pilgrims will be on hand to advise.” Reminder: Seattle: REI presentation: The Camino de Santiago–A 500 Mile Journey Across Spain on Saturday Feb 9, 2013. 6:30-8:30 p.m. by Myrna Aavedal, Marcia Shaver, Jim Eychaner, Becky Andrews and Martha Crites. Free. Register at website. "Between the 12th and 14th centuries, tens of thousands of people walked from all parts of Europe to Santiago de Compostela, Spain on what we now know as the Camino de Santiago. Much of the original infrastructure for housing those pilgrims still exists allowing present day travelers to stay in medieval stone buildings and find camaraderie with people from over 30 countries who make the journey. Our presenters have logged thousands of miles on the Camino. Come learn about walking, biking and the many trails to Santiago." Thanks for everything! Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Sue Kenney recently posted a list of 10 Camino Tips for Pilgrims in Life on Facebook, which I thought might be helpful to all hikers and backpackers out there as we bravely begin a new year:
Simplify 2013 - on or off the Camino.
1. Pack lightly. Give away what you don't absolutely need.
2. Breathe. Deeply and consciously.
3. Eat healthy/organic. Support local farmers and artisans.
4. Walk in the forest. Honour the balance and wisdom of Mother Earth.
5. Go barefoot. Your body will love you for it.
6. Act from a compassionate heart. Share with others.
7. Face your fears. What you resist, will persist.
8. Laugh lovingly. See the humor in every situation.
9. Offer gratitude. Be thankful for life's gifts.
10. Be love. Vibrate in the energy of the divine.
The lone male wolf, who was dubbed OR-7 by wildlife managers, moved to lower ground in December--apparently for warmer surroundings.
“California Department of Fish and Game program manager Karen Kovacs told The Oregonian that winter storms lashing the high country south of Lassen Peak have forced deer to lower elevations, and the wolf known as OR-7 has followed.” When last reported, OR-7 was in an area of oak-chaparral east of Red Bluff, CA.
OR-7 left his pack and home in Oregon more than a year ago, traveled along the Cascade Range and into California apparently in search of a mate. His collar allows researchers to keep track of his travels and habits. He avoids Hwy. 5, the major north-south route of the west coast and has swum the Klamath River multiple times. Mostly OR-7 has stayed out of sight and gotten in little trouble—though members of his pack were threatened by farmers for killing cattle. OR-7 in contrast, eats primarily deer.
Although OR-7 is the only known wolf to enter California in more than a century, Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands, has commented that he is optimistic about OR-7's likelihood of finding a mate here. The corridor between the two states has become much friendlier to wildlife since clear-cutting and development have eased. OR-7 at 3 & 1/2 is middle-aged in wolf years at this point, but since the battery in his collar is due to expire within a year, we may never know if he finds his soul mate or not!
The wolves remaining in Oregon are doing well. A year ago there were 29 known within the state; since then there have been 25 new pups born for a total of 54. (Info from Associated Press Dec. 8/2012 PORTLAND, Ore.)
Exploring Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park & More: Majestic peaks, hanging glaciers, turquoise lakes, condors soaring overhead… southern Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park offers hikers some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the world.
“Join Susan Alcorn, author of Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine, for a digital presentation of her recent backpacking trips with her husband [Ralph] on the park’s classic routes–the “W” and the “O” circuit. Susan will also share highlights of their adventures exploring Chile ’s picturesque Lake District, penguin-watching in the Magdalena and Marta Islands , day-tripping in Argentina ’s Los Glaciares National Park , and enjoying the vibrant cities of Santiago and Buenos Aires. If you register for this free presentation at www.rei.com/stores, we will hold a seat for you until the scheduled start time. Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed." Please note that REI requests that reservations be made after January 7th.
Kathryn Roethel and Mythbuster, “Body heat isn’t lost primarily from the head.” Roethel goes on to say that the admonition to "cover your head if you want to stay warm” is inaccurate. She states, “the percentage of heat you lose through your head depends on how well you bundle up the rest of your body." Through a series of experiments—subjects wearing wetsuits or bathing suits—they found that the clothing, or lack of it, on the rest of the body affected the amount of heat lost through the head. Further experiments showed that the ears, nose, and checks have specialized blood vessels that are linked to warming or cooling the body’s internal organs—however, there are similar blood vessels in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The takeaway to this is that wearing a cap, or hat, is helpful, but equally important is proper clothing including gloves and footwear. (source: S.F. Chronicle. Dec. 12, 2012)
Last month this newsletter ran a list of things hikers could do with socks. Marcyn Clements responded with this helpful hint,
“When Dottie & I were on a long backpack...after we met you [ed.: in the Sierra ages ago!], our packs didn't fit well.... because I had lost weight during the trip, my pack hurt my hips...I put my extra wool socks between the strap and my hips to stop the chafing. I've also used them on my shoulder straps for the same reason. But now I have a new pack that fits nicely, and my socks stay on my feet!
The 16th Annual Gathering of Pilgrims will be at the Old Mission Santa Barbara Renewal Center. March 14 - 17, 2013. The Hospitalero Training will take place March 12 - 14. To go to the American Pilgrims site, click here; to register under National Events go here.
“American Pilgrims on the Camino announces the 16th Annual Gathering March 14-17, in Santa Barbara, California. This year’s theme, Hidden Life of the Camino, celebrates those things unseen or unnoticed along the Trail.
The Gathering starts with the Thursday evening reception. Sessions and presentations start Friday morning and continue through Sunday morning at 11:30. There will be "sessions on bird life with Merry Roy; Geological features and rock formations will be discussed by Bruce Perry from the Department of Geological Sciences at California State University and Paul Dworian, Senior Geologist at URS-Alaska; Marsha Holm and Emilio Escudero will introduce two beautiful Monasteries, one in the mountains of Aragón, and the other south of Burgos; Marlena Lambert will show us some easy ways to support our physical and mental health during a long hike and many more interesting and informative sessions.”
Pacific Crest Trail Days 2013. Advance notice from Jason Waicunas of the Planning Committee Outreach that PCT DAYS 2013 is scheduled for September 6-8, 2013 in the Columbia River Gorge on Thunder Island in Cascade Locks, Oregon. Activities include classes, gear raffles, music, movies, and outdoor gear demos. The event is an annual fundraiser that raises revenue for the non-profit Pacific Crest Trail Association, which oversees the management of the Pacific Crest Trail. Funds are raised by donations from exhibitors / vendors / sponsors, attendees, and raffle ticket sales. It's a fun time and a beautiful location for a great cause. Look for updates at the PCTA website.
Friday, September 27, 2013 for the ALHDA-West gathering. The American Long Distance Hikers Assoc. - West coast event will be at Camp Augusta, in Nevada City, CA. Posted by Whitney Allgood LaRuffa posted on ALDHA-West Facebook page.
Seattle REI presentation: The Camino de Santiago. "A 500 Mile Journey Across Spain" will be given on Saturday Feb 9, 2013. 6:30-8:30 p.m. by Myrna Aavedal, Marcia Shaver, Jim Eychaner, Becky Andrews and Martha Crites. Free. Register at website. "Between the 12th and 14th centuries, tens of thousands of people walked from all parts of Europe to Santiago de Compostela, Spain on what we now know as the Camino de Santiago. Much of the original infrastructure for housing thosepilgrims still exists allowing present day travelers to stay in medieval stone buildings and find camaraderie with people from over 30 countries who make the journey. Our presenters have logged thousands of miles on the Camino. Come learn about walking, biking and the many trails to Santiago."
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
. I’d love to include your success stories and
other items of interest with the hiking/backpacking and Camino
communities. I encourage you to send them to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67. She last hiked it at the age of 76.